Swans

Swans

Swans in the millrace

Last year around this time, while the ground was still under cover of snow but the lake ice had melted, an elegant swan pair swam silently into the millrace.  They stayed, lazily swimming around, while the ducks made room for them, for an hour or so.  This was a treat for us because, while we have lots of and all kinds of ducks, swans are infrequent visitors to the millpond and millrace.

During one of their infrequent appearances a couple of summers ago, the swans taught me a lesson in survival of the fittest.  The day was beautiful and warm with a sunny blue sky, and the feeling of peacefulness one gets when lazing by the water.  I was sitting in our back yard enjoying the peace and quiet when I heard a screeching sound such as I had never heard before.  The sound was not that of a duck, or any bird I knew and it had a frantic sound that left me feeling frightened.

I looked toward the sound and found its source.  I saw two big swans gliding, but with great speed, in pursuit of a smaller swan who was racing away from them as fast as it could.  As it swam, and there was nothing elegant about its efforts, it continued to emit the screeching sound that had gotten my attention.

As I watched in horror, the two larger swans caught up with the smaller swan and attacked.  They pushed it under the water and tried to hold it down, undoubtedly to drown it.  However, the little swan was not giving up without a fight and it managed to get away.  I saw it surface and hurry away undetected.

Over the next several weeks, I saw our little swan swimming alone, obviously not permitted to be part of the flock of swans that swim together on the lake.  There were no more attacks but I wondered often how long it could survive on its own.  I imagined what predators might find the lonely little swan an easy target and tasty snack.

Finally, our little swan stopped appearing and I will never know its fate, but I do imagine that it had a short life.

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