In the fourth of a series of articles celebrating the swans that reside on the lakes of Wanstead, Tracey Adebowale-Jones has tragic news from Wanstead Flats. Photo of Snaresbrook’s visiting black swan by Don Taylor
It has been a time of tragedy and excitement. As the cygnets start to develop their full white feathers, it is time for mum and dad to think about their new family ahead – sadly, this means a chasing off of last year’s brood.
Our Perch Pond family in Wanstead Park have managed to shoo off one of their offspring (to Jubilee Pond) but, at the time of writing, the other six are reluctant to leave home. Maybe they know all about lockdown!
On Alexander Lake on Wanstead Flats, we were distraught to find a long-standing mate badly injured from a dog bite. The back of her neck was severely gashed, and because of the complexity of her rescue, the Swan Support team had to come out with their boat in the darkness of night. She was rescued and taken poste haste to the Swan Sanctuary, but her injuries were severe and she died the following day. There has been no insight into the owner of the dog. But this is a crime and we hope they will one day be held to account. This swan was a long-term partner and the cob was heard calling for her days afterwards. Please, if you are a dog owner, keep your dog under control.
Then, of course, there is Bruce, the black swan who appeared to have taken advantage of the relaxed rules of lockdown and came to visit some long-distant relatives on Eagle Pond in Snaresbrook. Black swans are native to Australia – hence the imaginative name Bruce – and their habitat requirements are similar to the more common mute swans.
Bruce was also seen on Hollow Ponds and at Walthamstow Wetlands for a few days’ holiday, and prior to that he was at Greenland Dock, Surrey Quays. Quite possibly, he made his way from Regent’s Park. His arrival caused traffic jams and photographers to go wild. At the time of writing, he had left his Eagle Pond residency, but his whereabouts are a closely guarded secret.
Finally, I would like to say thank you to our swan rescuer Louisa Green – who stepped in to cover Gill Walker when she fractured her shoulder – and to all the people who have been amazing in their support of feeding and watching, and to Swan Support. Also to Sandy Hamberger, who is tireless in her support and feeding regime.