In the third of a series of articles celebrating the swans that reside on the lakes of Wanstead Park and Wanstead Flats, Tracey Adebowale-Jones explains why flight training could have been delayed for the cygnets on Ornamental Waters
At the end of summer, the swans on the Ornamental Waters in Wanstead Park were literally locked down at one end of the lake – in an area known as the canal. This was because the water levels in the lake were drastically low following the summer’s heatwave, and so the swans were unable to swim out.
It made food scarce and their lives were in danger. At this time of year, the juveniles have grown enough to start to learn to fly, and swan watchers were concerned that if water levels did not rise, they would be unable to learn their flight skills.
Adults begin to move their juveniles away now as they think about starting new families, and if a younger swan remains, it can often turn nasty as the adults chase their children away. Luckily, the stopcock, which releases borehole water, was turned on and water flowed into the lake. The water levels became high enough for the swans to swim out of their lockdown and their flight training began.
At the time of writing, there are three youngsters out of four now remaining on the lake. We assume the fourth has flown away, although we can’t be sure where to.
You can now clearly see the white of the cygnet’s feathers as they turn into beautiful adult swans and begin their new lives in a flock – until they find a mate and start to seek a territory to raise their own family.
Through our growing network of volunteers, we are able to tell each other when we have concerns about a local swan’s health or safety. We would like to thank everyone who supported our plea to feed them whilst they were trapped and would ask people to continue to do so as we head into the winter months.