March of the Swans at The Ethical Dairy
Every spring, for the last 5 years, a grand expedition has taken place on our farm.
This beautiful swan couple build their nest each year on Megan’s Lochan, a small wildlife pond next to one of our nature trails. It’s a great place to hatch their eggs because the nest is protected by water and so is relatively safe from predation, but it’s not ideal for feeding a young family of cygnets. For the swans, the best food can be found a full kilometre away on the other side of the farm.
So to raise their cygnets our swan parents relocate their young family - and it’s a huge journey for these cygnets, who are only 2 or 3 days old. We watch out for it every year, because their journey is fraught with danger and sometimes we need to help them out.
Like most farms, our roads have one or two cattle grids, and almost every year the swans noisily alert us to the plight of a fallen cygnet in need of human hands to rescue it from a fall into the cattle grid.
Our first sign of the swans preparing for their journey is the male swan flying backwards and forwards, low in the air, over the farm. He spends several days sussing out their route and planning their journey, and watching him has given us a new appreciation for the intelligence of these beautiful birds.
His careful planning paid off this year. The swans changed their route to one that avoided the cattle grid entirely, a longer journey, taking them around three hours, but a safer one for the tiny cygnets. What they hadn’t spotted from the air is that we have a few new fences and gates on the farm, so we had to give them a little bit of help at the end of their journey just to show them the way.
They are now safe at the other end of the farm where there are rich food sources for them to feed their family, and we look forward to watching the cygnets grow.