For the past month, a lone male swan (cob) patrolled the far end of . If a goose came near, the cob unfolded its wings, extended its neck and smacked its feet on the surface of the water as it darted toward its perceived enemy. Somewhat grumpily, he tolerated a few ducks and a come-and-go blue heron. Muskrats, turtles and other under-the-radar creatures were allowed to pass.
When I first observed the cob’s behavior, I wondered what all the fuss was about. Then, thanks to Brighton resident Doug Peterson, I learned that a female swan (pen) nested among the reeds near . Peterson maintains a blog, Words4It, that chronicles all things .
He has been recording events at for close to two years. In addition to gorgeous photographs, the blog offers facts and educated opinions about the flora and fauna of .
Since reading Peterson’s post about the swans’ nest, I’ve been walking to the far end of the boardwalk whenever I get a chance. My son gets a kick out of the cob. He’s big and white, which is an exciting and noticeable change from the smaller, more camouflaged geese and ducks that frequent the near end of .
He’s too young to spot the pen on her nest among the reeds. But, for me, seeing her is a treat. It’s a moment out of all the day’s shared moments that I can have completely to myself.
As neither of us had ever seen a baby swan (cygnet), I’d also been hoping to share a new experience with my son. We were able to do so on the last day of May.
Expecting to see only the alert cob, I was stunned to see both him and the pen through the trees as I came upon the far end of . I slowed and pushed my son’s stroller up to an opening in the trees and quickly noticed four cygnets.
As I squatted to gauge my son’s reaction—he pointed, smiled, babbled baby talk—the herd closed in on us. Because the cob had been so aggressive previously, I backed away a bit. He and the pen allowed the cygnets to come within feet of us, though, so I realized that they trusted us and were actually hoping to be fed.
We didn’t have anything to offer, so the swans soon drifted away. As the herd began to disappear behind the foliage, my son said, “Bye,” his one perfectly enunciated—even if elongated—word.
It was another beautiful walk along Mill Pond Park’s boardwalk, and we’ll be going back as often as possible to watch the cygnets grow. Unfortunately, they grow quickly and die easily.
My son and I witnessed four cygnets on Tuesday and Wednesday, but Peterson photographed five cygnets on Memorial Day.
“The babies are often devoured by the turtles and large fish,” Peterson said.
He also noted that there were no new swans at last year. The year before last, one swan was raised to adulthood.
In other words, this year is somewhat special. Next time you’re in the area, take the time to make the trek to the far end of the boardwalk. Witnessing the curious white fluff balls and their doting parents is totally worth it.
Note: As signage at Mill Pond Park indicates, the waterfowl should not be fed. Doing so interrupts the habitat and instincts in many ways. If you must break this reasonable rule, please resist the urge to feed the waterfowl bread, popcorn, pasta and other seemingly appropriate snacks. Instead, opt for Wildernest’s inexpensive bags of duck chow.