Our (almost) daily walk around our local lake produced a variety of sights today. The blackthorn blossom has come and even starts to be going, as drifts of small white petals start to accumulate beneath the bushes which are coated in stem-bending swatches of blooms in what paint manufacturers would call “white with a hint of pink”. The nettles have suddenly erupted, small serrated leaves on stalks already five inches high. In the woodland, the long beard-shaped leaves of arum lilies are also making a start. The wrens have switched to their summer territorial, finger-cymbal song. But it’s the cob swan that tells me Spring really is coming, no matter how bitter the wind. Of the 8 cygnets our pair of swans started with, only two have grown in adulthood (one near-adult sadly seemed to die of the avia ‘flu that is in our area). They still have some adolescent plumage, but are far more white than brown now.
But now Dad has decided that it’s time for the kids to leave home, so Mum and he can get on with making the next generation of small bundles of white fluffy joy. And his determination that they leave is impressive. No restricting their access to the internet, asking them for rent, or any other small hints. No, it’s full-on attack. Whenever the cobs see either of the kids, he puffs his wings into a circle that arches over his back, and calls for full steam ahead from the engine room, surging in that zoom-and-stop, zoom-and-stop way that an irate swan has, towards his offspring.
But, as if to prove that the younger generation are the same whatever the species, Junior didn’t seem to get the hint. He would fly a few yards and land sometimes on the water, sometime on the land, and settle down to play ‘call of duty’ or whatever it is bored adolescent swans do. And Dad clambered out of the lake and bore down on him, with his ungainly left-leg then right-leg bow-legged waddle and his arced wings now down by his sides, looking like nothing so much as a gunfighter in a western, ready to draw, until Junior took wing again.
To me, the cob missed a trick. When New Zealand couldn’t get protesters to move, they played them the ‘Macarena’ and James Blunt songs. Quick, effective, and no need to get into a flap.