Our swan family, caught by our reader who sent us the wonderful image of the mother incubating her eggs back in April, and who wondered whether this was the same family. I was thinking that there might be two families but definitely wasn’t sure and suggested that a call to the Corporation might discover someone who could tell us. But he went one better:
Michelle – I took up the challenge and via the earlier articles in the Ham & High about the egg laying and hatching on Pond #1 I found the name of the photographer, Ron Vester, who is on the Heath Sub-Committee of the Heath and Hampstead Society and whose phone number is in the listing of all their officers in the Newsletter. I have just had a fascinating conversation with him.
He has been monitoring the swans on the Heath for 20 years or more and he confirmed that the swans now on Pond #2 are the ones hatched earlier on Pond #1. Ten eggs resulted in 9 successful hatchings and apparently as soon as they are hatched the parents transfer them to Pond #2 (sometimes with help from Ron and others) where there is more food, but also more danger. Two of the cygnets were taken by pike in Pond #2 and another may have been killed by a dog, leaving the 6 we see today.
I was disappointed to learn that the cygnets do not fledge (actually learn to fly) since they get too heavy – obesity is not just a human problem! – and are likely to be chased off the pond by the parents. At that point Ron and others catch them and take them to a sanctuary before a dog gets them.
And the gross….
The remains of someone’s Saturday night picnic abandoned on the grass above the boating pond.
On my way back across this heath this morning I saw group of people with black bags and those ‘helping hand litter pickers’ who looked as though they belonged to a volunteer group. (Maybe Heath Hands although they do not say anything specifically about picking litter on their site).
Yesterday I saw a middle aged couple also with bags and pickers but they looked as though they were self tasked with the job. I do pick up stuff but tend only to do so on the way home when I know I am fairly near either a rubbish collection point or my own bins. Maybe I need to equip myself with a bag and picker and be a bit more systematic.
It is depressing how quickly people have reverted to their pre-COVID habits. During lockdown the Corporation removed all the bins from the heath so that their employees could be kept safe – and heath walkers were amazing. There was scarcely a bit of rubbish to be see anywhere – but now that things have returned relatively to normal……
But let’s end with something more uplifting. This very pretty little flower I found in the hedgerow just before I reached my path. I am hoping that Emma will tell us what it is……
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