I wasn’t bitten by a Swan today, what about you?

After my first lot of swan pictures, I found out that there is another place in the city with white swans, called unsurprisingly Swan Lake.  Today I ventured out with my camera and was greeted with a family of Paradise ducks, Mum and Dad and 8 ducklings.

Mum and 8 ducklings

I kept my distance from the duck family as they settled down for a nap on the warm dry gravel in the sun and perched on a rock next to the lake.   A few minutes later a rather large white swan swooped in from further down the lake in a spectacular splashy landing

Spectacular landing and wingspan

I should have been warned when he swam up to a white swan statue on the edge of the lake and attacked its neck with his beak.  As I bought my camera around he noticed me still sitting on my rock on the edge of the lake and powered right for me at surprising speed.

See the bow wave from the speed he is generating

The posture of this approach was quite different to my last swan encounter, this swan had his head right back, and he is clearly focussed straight on me, and powering towards me at speed.  Completely unlike the shy gentle enquiring approach from my first swan meeting.

Circling around to approach straight on

See how his neck is laid right back nearly flat against his back and the force of his approach has pushed all the water up in front of him in a bow wave like a sailing boat.  At this point he is only a couple of meters away and I am feeling ….. uncertain… is probably the best way to describe it.  Wary because as he gets closer I realise how BIG he is.

Another view of the warning off approach to a father with a young child feeding the ducks

Still, intrepid photographer I am, I stay on my rock, snapping shots until he gets inside my cameras focal range.  Fortunately I am still paying attention to his approach, and I had moved back a bit off my rock to keep him in frame.  So I managed to inelegantly sqwark and jump backwards when the powerful neck arrowed right for me with the beak open for a warning bite!

Stepping back further, I poised to run in case he intended to come out of the water and chase me again, but he obviously felt I had recieved the message loud and clear.  The handful of people on the balcony of the cafe on the other side of the lake were highly amused by this turn of events, and had I not been so focussed on avoiding the swan, I would have been probably quite embarrassed!

Ruffled Feathers has a real meaning!

Once he was certain I had gotten the point, he turned away, feathers clearly ruffled and swam off down the lake.  Somewhat shaken by the fright I had gotten, I concentrated on soothing shots of adorably cute ducklings sleeping in piles on the gravel until some new arrivals disturbed them and bought the swan back for another high speed approach.

Preparing for a bath

Eventually all the hard work required some cooling off with a bath, which was announced with a loud gutteral huffing, and much flapping of the wings, following by much dipping underwater and splashing it down the back

Finally all the feathers were smoothed back into place with brushes of the head and neck, and nibblings and tuckings of the beak

Amazing flexibility

I was told by other visitors that normally the swans are very tame and friendly, I am not sure what caused the aggression I encountered today, it is spring, they may have been in a mating pattern.  I assumed if there was a nest with eggs one of the pair would have been sitting but both were on the water.

So I advise caution when approaching a swan, and look out for a fast aggressive swim up towards you (especially if you weren’t throwing food out, I had forgotten to bring any).  If that happens then be careful.   We eventually reached detente – if I stayed away from the very edge of the lake he wouldn’t threaten me.

It was an interesting experience, and I learnt a lot, and got some great photos. I don’t need to take any swan pictures for a while, not until there are cygnets out!

All images taken on Canon 7d with 70-200 F4 IS L lens, processed in LR4.


About lensaddiction

Mad keen photographer figuring it out as she goes!
This entry was posted in Camera Adventures, For Beginners, Waffle and Burbling and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to I wasn’t bitten by a Swan today, what about you?

  1. terbar75 says:

    The swans are beautiful and elegant when they swim in calm water, but if they feel threatened they become very aggressive! 🙂

    • lensaddiction says:

      Yes they can, the bit that puzzles me is why they felt threatened. One of the other visitors commented that the lake had recently been cleaned, maybe that intrusion upset them.

  2. Carolyn Collins says:

    I’m so pleased to hear that there are still 8 ducklings as about a month ago, the swans were trying to attack the ducklings and I feared they might have come to some harm. My friend who had crouched down at the water’s edge to take photos was also attacked and nearly slipped in. That bow wave is certainly impressive!

    • lensaddiction says:

      Ducklings looked good, were happy pottering about in the water unattended and the swan never approached them while they were in the water that I saw. Mind you I was a much more tempting target!

  3. I was interested to read of your swan encounter … and the photos are great …sure created an impressive looking bow-wave coming up at such speed. I watched a similar display, different location, different country; of a swan patrolling his patch on the river near where the pair was nesting …. chased off every bird that came within distance. Guess some individuals assert territorial rights?!

    • lensaddiction says:

      Thanks I appreciate the feedback, glad to know I am not the only one having swan encounters of the scaring off kind 🙂

      I can only assume that there may be a nest or it was during the spring mating ritual that caused the aggressiveness if other people have said they are normally not so agressive.

      Interestingly he was chasing the Paradise duck family but not other ducks I saw swimming about in the lake. Mind you the male paradise ducks are very territorial themselves, so a bit of tit for tat maybe 🙂

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