Swan Diary #6 ‘On The Nest’ (2013)

Swans are now nesting !

So my plan for today was to have a quick look at the Swan Pond then bike it to Riverside to check out the area on the River Forth where some Porpoise’s were spotted last week.

Heron in far field
Heron in far field

But as those who of us who film wildlife know you can’t really plan exactly what your going to see, so when I spotted a grey Heron in the far field, I set up up camera just in time to see it catching something. The timing was perfect and I had a good feeling today was going to be good.

The weather was sunny and warm compared to the past few days where rain and high winds were the norm. I took some photos of the Heron then moved down to the pond where the water was very calm and I could see lots of toads on the bottom of the pond.

Best was yet to come as I spotted one of the swans laying in the reeds , as I got closer I made out the edges of the nest she had built. This is what I had been waiting for, last year I started taking photos when the cygnets were born so I was determined to film them as the built the nest this year.

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Questions:

How long do swans sit on their eggs?

After the nest has been built, which typically takes 2-3 weeks, the egg laying process begins with an egg being laid every 12-24 hours. Once all the eggs have been laid, which can take 2-3 weeks, they will all be incubated (ie sat on to start the growth process) at the same time with hatching usually 42 days (6 weeks) later.

Is it normal for a swan to sit on her eggs for longer than the normal 6 weeks?

Yes. If she is still sitting on the eggs then she must be able to hear movement within the eggs. It may be that she lost her first clutch of eggs to a predator and has laid a new set – this would explain the extended “sitting” period.

What predators do cygnets and swans have?

New born cygnets are mainly lost to crows, herons, magpies, turtles, pike and large perch. Both cygnets and full-grown swans are also the prey of foxes and mink.

How many eggs usually hatch out and how many of the cygnets usually survive to adulthood?

Swans hatch up to 10 eggs at a time with the expectation of losing several of them. It is not uncommon for all the cygnets to be lost to predators, nor is it uncommon for most of them to survive – it all depends on the location and the natural protection afforded them. As the parents grow older they learn from the experience of previous years.

Do swans breed throughout their lives?

Yes, though the number of eggs laid each year tends to decrease with time.

How long do the cygnets stay with their parents?

Typically 6 months.

Is it normal for the parents to be chasing their cygnets once they’re several months old?

Absolutely. Once the cygnets are old enough to look after themselves the parents cut the parental ties with them and chase them away, sometimes quite aggressively.

Where do cygnets go when they leave their parents?

They normally join the first flock of swans they encounter where they usually stay until they mature when about 4 years old.

Is it true that swans mate for life?

As a general rule this is true. If a mate is lost then the surviving mate will go through a grieving process like humans do, after which it will either stay where it is on its own, fly off and find a new stretch of water to live on (where a new mate may fly in and join it) or fly off and re-join a flock.

 

 

 

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Author: RayDvD

I am an avid Film Fan and collect DvD's and Blu-rays, with over 1000 films in my Collection. I also like to cycle and am a huge gadget and tech fan. My other hobbies are computing, photography and multimedia. I am the creator and owner of RayDvD Productions, who make documentary films, images and graphics.

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