Clear skies and swans
It’s Easter weekend here in the UK – and anywhere else that follows the Christian calendar – which generally means that the garden centres are full of customers and the shops are full of chocolate eggs (although it is Saturday so I suspect that the stocks will be depleted now as it’s Easter Sunday tomorrow!) – you might be forgiven for forgetting that it’s a religious festival!
I’ve been in the garden myself – and to buy more compost as I’ve been working in the veg garden – but today I wanted to show you some photos that I took a week or so ago before the school holidays. My dog walking routine always changes over the holidays and these were taken on one of the last walks before the schools finished.
I love the Nine Arches walk in the early morning, and especially on sunny days when the sun is low behind the arches.
This was a frosty morning, it came right out of nowhere as the temperatures had been higher during the week. Oh, but frosty mornings bring that nip to the air, a freshness that makes your cheeks glow and skies that are so blue you could swim in them …
I couldn’t resist stopping to admire the frost on these leaves – they looked so lovely and we’ve been a bit short of heavy frost this Winter so I haven’t been able to indulge in seeing leaves edged in white quite as much as I would have liked to.
The dog and I chose a different path on this particular day and found ourselves following the canal for longer than we might sometimes do. Up ahead of us, I could see something white on the the bank and guessing that it was a swan, put the dog on his lead so that he wasn’t tempted to encourage it into the water. He does seem to like “encouraging” the ducks to swim!
This swan wasn’t in the least bit bothered about us passing by him (her?) and even posed for a photo with wings held high. This is a mute swan, there are a few of them on this canal and I’ve written about them before. They have this characteristic of a large bump at the top of their beaks and lifting their wings. It does make them look very elegant!
Isn’t he (she) beautiful? I didn’t get too close, this is the zoom on my camera which let me get in closer than I would have tried to with the dog held firmly in one hand.
I did wonder why this swan was alone when usually they are in pairs, but just a bit further along the path I saw the reason why.
I could assume that this is Mrs Swan on the nest but I think both Mr and Mrs take it in turns to sit on the eggs so I shouldn’t guess. Someone else might be able to tell me if there’s an easy way to tell swans apart! She (he) does look a bit like a large white blob on this photo, but clearly she (he) was on high alert because as we passed, she (he) was very much wide awake and keeping a close eye on how close we were getting. Not close, I can assure you – aside from anything else, you can see that the nest has been built just out of easy walking reach – that’s not flooded ground you can see in the foreground but part of the canal itself so I think you’d find yourself very wet if you tried to get to the nest!
I do like how it’s built up like that. It reminds me of a motte and bailey castle although this would just be the motte bit with the swan up high to deter predators. It’s built of vegetation – I couldn’t get close enough to see but it looks like the dried out stalks of last year’s Himalayan balsam which is a nuisance to most people but obviously the nest-building plant of choice for the swans! It’s also really big! It spreads out to easily a metre or more – I found this post on swans’ nests and it’s really interesting to see how they’re built.
I know that the swans are used to people being around, but I felt very special that we had been able to get up so close to them. The dog stayed on his lead until we were well past both the swans and then I was able to let him off again. He was very pleased to see that several ducks had lined themselves up on the bank, ready to swoosh into the water as he bounded up to them. I think it makes his day!
I feel like I’m still playing catch up with my blog a little so I hope you don’t mind as I do that 🙂
I hope you have a lovely Easter weekend if you celebrate, and I’ll see you soon!