The cygnets on the lake in our local park have almost grown up. We’ve been watching them for a whole year now, and have realised that the ‘Ugly Duckling’ legend is deeply inappropriate. These young swans never looked anything other than handsome and confident, even when they were the swan equivalent of teenagers, barging into one another and quarrelling. Their feathers were never really ‘all stubby and brown’ as the song claimed, and no ducks ever looked as though they were even considering telling the cygnets to ‘get out of town’. Last spring, we were fascinated to discover the whole family at the side of the lake, gorging on blackberries from bushes that overhang the water. It had never occurred to me that swans would be partial to fruit.
Yesterday the ice on the pond was starting to melt, and the swans were hovering at the place where the water met the ice in the middle of the lake (see photo). The cygnets are gradually losing their mottled feathers, and will soon be as tall and as snowy-white as their parents. For some reason they all kept getting out of the water and waddling clumsily about on the ice, slightly spoiling their image as serene masters of the lake.