Fan of…Swans

Jez has an open-ended photo challenge, Fan of….  You can end this phrase in any way you want to whenever you want to.

Right now, swans are what I have to look forward to. The only time I leave the house is to take walks around the campus of our community. We have two ponds, one small, one large, and every March, a pair of swans for each pond are brought in. We get to witness their entire life cycle. Swans mate for life so the pairs they bring have already chosen a mate. The male will then make a nest, and the female will take 2-3 weeks to lay her eggs. Then the incubation period, where they take turns sitting on the eggs, lasts 35-41 days. Yes, I’ve done research – what else is there to do??

One of the pairs this year is rather placid. When we walk by the small pond, they are usually just gliding around on the far side.
The other pair is far more interesting so I look forward to seeing them every day as we walk by the big pond. So much that I have named them! I call the male Sidney, and the female Celine.  I have taken many photos of them, except when I saw them actually mating! I was so fascinated that I forgot to get out my phone until they were done. Afterward, they did some loving gestures, like the classic heart:
It’s sometimes hard to tell them apart – the male supposedly has a larger black knob on his beak, but I can’t discern the difference from where I stand. Swans can be very mean if they feel threatened. In fact, when they first came, Sidney & Celine swam around the pond like this:
They were afraid of the humans walking around the pond then, and puffing up their wing feathers make them look larger and thus more threatening (supposedly).
Now they do this mainly when Canada geese are around. Sidney, especially, will swim along the edge of the pond with his feather puffed up and the geese know better than to approach any farther!

Occasionally Sidney will get out of the water and waddle up the hill to chase the geese. 20200324_153837
Swans are ungainly on land, but later in the season we will see them more often out of the water with their cygnets. Sometimes, Sidney sends the geese flying and squawking to the top of the residential building. Other times, the geese just walk along near the water’s edge (but not too close!) as the swan continues following them, gliding along the shore.
Having seen the swans mate, I’m counting the days until Celine lays her eggs! I calculate somewhere around April 7. Meanwhile, the swans are working on the nest. This is mainly the male’s job, but I’ve seen her sitting on a pile of trampled grasses with Sidney next to her. Perhaps he wants her approval of the job he’ s doing!

Today I noticed there are nesting materials in two places, so it’s unclear which they will use.  (“Gee, honey, I like this one a lot, but the other nest is great, too!”) Whichever they don’t use, probably one or more of the many duck couples will claim.

So this is why I’m a fan of swans! But I admired them and photographed them eagerly when we were in Europe last summer and I could get much closer.
Watching our swans become parents and the cygnets growing up is something I really look forward to! Meanwhile, seeing them is the highlight of these sequestered days.

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