Monday, April 4, 2011

swans and spring

For a few harrowing days, it looked like the whole thing would be cancelled. Because the lake was still frozen. And indeed, by the time I left Stratford this afternoon, it was snowing. Again.

But, the swans were getting a bit antsy. They knew Spring was here and they were wanting to get out of their winter home and into the river to be free and frisky.

And no-one does swans quite like Stratford.
There are about 26 swans in Stratford, their numbers kept low so that they can be better managed. Swans are very territorial and the Avon River is not that big. In the winter, they are kept in a pen with a pond and fenced in outdoor area and a shed to stay warm. They also have a Twitter account for amusement.

But when it is time for them to be released into the water (or as we call it, "going outside" via Twitter), well, they are done so with a LOT of pomp and ceremony.
They are piped down to the river by the Stratford Police Pipe and Drum Corps.
Hundreds of people descend to the short (very short) parade route to witness the event. The walk is about 5 minutes around the corner and down the path to the launching point.


This guy was a little eager and perhaps thought they were in a race....

Then there is Nick who, as the local paper put it, "breached security" a couple of weeks ago, followed by his new paramour, Lacey. It is all the more poignant as Nick's partner, Angela, was brutally murdered by a drunk last year. She was basically defenceless as she was nesting and would not leave her eggs. (The attacker was found and charged) Nick mourned for months and spurned all offers of friendship. Until now.


Nick came by the launching area before the swans were paraded down, perhaps to greet his old buddies. Or to gloat....


21 comments:

  1. Wow, I had no idea that such a big deal was made out of the Stratford swans. It's actually kind of cute, though - and what a nice harbinger of spring!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Pinklea: it is a bit strange, but fun-filled. and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger. It used to be just a piper and a few of the volunteers, done in fun... now they even had entertainment for the first time this year.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That's quite impressive. It's amazing how well the swans co-operate despite the crowd. They don't seem to be in the least shy.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nora: Stratford is a seasonal theatre town - chock full of tourists from May to October. These guys are used to people.

    ReplyDelete
  5. They're so beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  6. how fun is this, i love that they are piped down to the water. hope you are well, sorry I have not been around for a bit, had to come visit. hugs.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Love the whole idea of piping the swans down to the lake! Seems like everyone enjoyed it too.

    So glad Nick found a new mate. Swans, like geese, make for life, and grieve just as much as humans when they lose a partner.

    How anyone can find it fun to attack a swan and kill her beats me. If she hadn't been defending her eggs, I would have backed the swan. With their wings and beak they can inflict a lot of damage!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Cinner: it is fun when a whole town gets into the spirit of something like this

    Gilly: Angela's murder shocked and horrified everyone. Had it been another animal, that would have seemed sad, but the law of nature - but this drunken bender was abhorrent behaviour.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Aren't people daft about animals?! In a good way, generally. I've never seen such chilled swans and am amazed that the piping doesn't seem to bother them. Nice piping, btw.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love silly evens like that. Swans can be aggressive as all hell but I like them.

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a joyful, beautiful thing. The musical accompaniment must be great!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Is this something they do naturally or are they sort of herded along?

    ReplyDelete
  13. WDP: they are herded out; in the video you can see a woman pushing a walker thingy filled with leafy greens as enticement to gather them together. I have no idea how they are corralled to come out of the river come winter.

    It is truly a bizarre event.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you so much for posting the video - it's wonderful. It was interesting to see one lone black swan!

    ReplyDelete
  15. jabblog: I know - that poor lonely black swan. there are rumours that another may be coming, but nothing is certain.

    ReplyDelete
  16. That is a cool event to get to see up close. Glad to hear the evil man who murdered the hen on her nest was convicted, that is nasty. They are such a lovely addition to the community.

    ReplyDelete
  17. never heard about such a thing before. Are their wings clipped? So they can´t fly away?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Yes, their wings are clipped. They can fly over fences (!) and short distances, but they are such an important symbol of Stratford that they want to keep them around.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Very interesting tradition! And cute...Thanks for sharing:)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Pretty cool, the royalty of Stratford..:-)

    ReplyDelete

Glad you stopped by. For anyone who stumbled here, don't be shy to say 'hi' and let me know you've visited!