Mute Swan, Cygnus olor parent & cygnet
(rain was on its way, this day, and the clouds very dark)
I have mentioned before that I have not seen any Mute Swan, Cygnus olor since the little youngster which I spotted locally in the Four Mile Estuary of Dunmanus Bay, underneath the bridge at the Church of Ireland on the 5th of July 2008. (see photo, above) It had disappeared by the next day, and although it is not unusual to have a Fox or other predator feast on the little body, it did seem very strange that it was the only youngster among a resident flock of 12-14 individuals.
I mentioned it to Niall Hatch (Birdwatch Ireland) this week, when I needed up-to-date- information on the current level of access in the East Coast Reserve.
Having not seen any young Mute Swans in Dunmanus Bay, Bantry, nor in Rosscarbery Bay, this summer, I needed to hear a little positive news about these large birds. I'm not sure what I expected to hear.
The news however, is grim. According to Niall, similar reports have been coming in from all over the country, so it is not only only the SW coast where cygnets are disappearing.
Niall lists several possible culprits; Fox, escaped Mink also seem to like these little ones and might take their toll., or perhaps even Gulls, who seem to like them when very young. It is the last one on the list which is the real grim one: "The thought that some birds have been taken by humans for food cannot be discounted either, though this seems to be a very rare occurance."
With a Rookery at the estuary and up to 15 Hooded Crows, feeding here also, I think we cannot discount these birds either.
What does strike me though, is that predators have always been around. So what is making 2009 so special? To that I have no answer, and neither had Niall so far.
Neither have I seen any Ducklings.
LEAVE YOUNG BIRDS BE!!
Please, do not hamper a young bird's life by picking it up, and taking it home with you. It is calling its parents to help them in locating it.
After fledgling from the nest, the parent birds will keep feeding it, and look out for it, until it will be able to look after itself.
And the reason you cannot see a parent is because of your own proxomity to the young bird. And while you are ebating if or not you should take the bird home, you keep the parent from giving it well needed nutrition in the form of a meal!
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