Swan lakes

L1230670©Geoff Wilkinson

Swan Sanctuary volunteer Louisa Green reports on a busy few weeks of swan rescues in Snaresbrook and Wanstead, and welcomes any donations to the swan ambulance fuel fund. Photo of Eagle Pond by Geoff Wilkinson

It’s been an eventful few weeks for local waterfowl, and as Swan Sanctuary volunteers, that means it’s been a busy time for us. We are on call 365 days a year to keep our swans and water birds safe.

Over on Eagle Pond, off Snaresbrook Road, a new dynamic is in place this year; a flock has taken over one half of the pond, with the long-term resident family retaining control of the island. This unusual set-up hasn’t been without drama.

Cygnets of the resident pair made their arrival on 16 May, and on 17 May the new parents took their babies to the water for the first time. The presence of the flock didn’t make this an easy task, and in the panic, the parents struggled to guide their new brood back onto the island later in the day, with one cygnet sadly succumbing to exhaustion. Fellow swan rescuers Gill and Ulf managed to quickly assemble a small ramp and install it on the island. The little ones soon got the hang of it, and were very grateful for the chance to dry off after a full day of swimming! The remaining five cygnets are all thriving.

The presence of such a large flock on Eagle Pond is a significant hazard, given its proximity to a busy main road, and on Sunday 5 June, a low-flying swan was hit by a W12 bus. The driver failed to stop and the incident has been reported to TfL. The swan was taken to The Swan Sanctuary in Shepperton, where she made a full recovery and has since been returned home. Many locals are now calling for the installation of signs and speed bumps along Snaresbrook Road to slow down the traffic.

In Wanstead Park, there have been a series of highs and lows in equal measure. May saw the arrival of five cygnets on the Ornamental Water, making it a significantly more successful brood for the pair than last year. Four cygnets remain and are doing well. Soon afterwards, five cygnets hatched on the Shoulder of Mutton Pond, although one was badly attacked by a swooping gull very early on and sadly died. Four cygnets remain and all is well.

The long-standing Perch Pond pair have had a very difficult few weeks. At the start of the season, two new pairs arrived in the park, which have taken up residence at the Grotto end of Perch Pond and Heronry Pond, leaving the original Perch pair sandwiched in the middle. This pair have sadly had a failed nest; none of their eggs have hatched this year. Furthermore, during the week of 6 June, both Mr and Mrs Perch were badly beaten by Mr Heronry and Mr New Perch, respectively, and so were rescued by Gill and Ulf and are now recovering in The Swan Sanctuary.

Lastly, I’d like to say a huge thank you to mother-daughter-duo Helen and Katie O’Rourke of Wanstead, who ran the London Vitality 10k in May, raising nearly £2,300 for the swan ambulance fuel fund. Being volunteers, and with the cost of diesel rising almost daily, this sum was very gratefully received. Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far.

To donate to the swan ambulance fuel fund, visit wnstd.com/swanambulance

To report an injured swan to The Swan Sanctuary, call 01932 240 790