Saturday 25 May 2013

To be friends with the swans...

This winter seems never ending. We do have daffodils beside the boat but I must admit I still feel cold. How I used to laugh when people would ask “Is it cold in winter?”
That was before our dodgy diesel stove kept breaking. At the moment we’re using the “back-up” heating which is a portable gas heater.

We’ve known our local swans for nearly a year now, since we took a permanent residential mooring. I call them Bonnie and Clyde: I don’t know why. They visited us regularly for bread, throughout Autumn and Winter. My little ones would sit on the front deck and call down the canal,
For some reason they feel this is the appropriate call that should be used to summon the swans. And the swans come. Then the ducks come and try to fight for a bit of bread too. If there’s any left over the big fat carp jump up and have a bite as well. It is one of the loveliest luxuries of living on a boat to be friends with the swans. Although it can be a demanding friendship at times. Clyde has now become bold enough to knock on the kitchen window with his beak if we are not on deck at a time when he wants feeding. Recently when I sat chatting with friends on the front deck he actually pecked me in the small of my back to let me know that he was there: ready and waiting for his bread.

But where is Bonnie? She has not been seen for some time. We discovered their nest beside the next canal bridge; safely on the offside, undisturbed by towpath walkers. She sits and waits, guarding her eggs. Clyde glides protectively before her, on the surface of the water, head held high and aloof, surveying the area.

When we return from the school-run the girls say,
“Can we check the swans?”
If it’s freezing and raining I grumpily say no, and drag the girls back to the boat for mugs of cocoa. But mostly I smile and say yes, and we sit on the bank opposite and watch, and talk about the swans.

This morning Clyde knocked on the bedroom window; wife in tow, with three gorgeous grey fluffy cygnets too! I grabbed some bread and headed for the front deck calling for the girls as I went.
“Girls! The swans have had cygnets!”

Just yesterday she was still on her nest, so they must have been born today and are straight in the water already!
“It must be their first outing” said The Doctor.
“Those proud parents,” I mused. “They must have said to themselves this morning, Let’s take the little ones down to The Bread Boat.
“Yes,” laughed my five year old, “To the cafĂ©!”

The girls threw bread, I took photos, The Doctor took a video. And we gleefully announced the news of the birth to other boaters and walkers on the towpath.
“The swans have had cygnets!”

It is sunny and the Spring is finally here.

Not my best pic - but they were moving fast, trying to escape the cries of "Swan ATTENTION!"

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