This morning I experienced one of those “right place, right time” moments. No sooner had I got down into the harbour with my camera, did I find the resident pair of Mute Swans acting unusually. They were swimming in very close contact and dipping their heads into the water and preening their wing feathers in rhythmic, alternate movements.
Having seen this behaviour before I knew that this was swan courtship in action and that mating was imminent. Sure enough seconds later the male clambered onto the back of the female to mate her. Mating is a brief and noisy affair, and the female is almost fully submerged by the weight of her partner in the process.
Pairing complete the two birds emerged with chests touching in a final tender moment before facing each other in and touching beaks to affirm their bond.
Hopefully in a few weeks, the female swan will lay a clutch of eggs. I look forward once again to the arrival of the latest generation of cygnets in early summer!
All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography 2017 ©
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