Seven Week Cygnet

After a string of unsummery days – eye-level cloud and low visibility followed by an airless warmth interspersed with dank mizzle and unseasonal showers – today’s brighter sky and cheery breeze was a welcome change: and on my day off too! Hung out the washing and set off to visit the Swanpool swans, who I haven’t seen for a whole month having not been much at home in the last few weeks. Though the weather’s not been all that like summer the outside world is at least reflecting the seasons. Some roses planted at the crossroads next to Falmouth Cemetery were giving off a fragrance so strong and distinctive it was hard to believe it was natural. The Cemetery itself was looking very green, though I missed the abundance of spring wildflowers which will have finished and gone to seed in the last few weeks prior to the recent mowing. Down at the Nature Reserve the lush vegetation that borders the pool is full of the smell of summer. The bramble blossom is out, palest pink and off-white flowers like small, simplified dog roses – of course they are related, and perhaps they were what was responsible for the floral, pollen-y scent in the air. Like the cemetery it looked less exciting than in spring as excepting the cow parsley and thistle there was much less variety of flowers, shapes and colours.

Followers of the swan family will be pleased to hear that the remaining cygnet was out with the parents, loitering as usual down the south end of the pool near the pavement. She’s more than doubled in size since I last saw her; though in feather a little drabber and far less downy and adorable. Her grey plumage is resembling much more closely the tumble-drier fluff I was expecting to compare it to when she and her sibling first hatched, and I can start to see (though can’t quite condone) why Hans Christian Andersen came up with the idea of an ugly duckling as there’s a hint of the prehistoric about the cygnet’s appearance now the neck’s elongated and the head’s lost its roundness. However I’m not sure if she really is that much more scruffy than last time, or whether it’s because she’s so much bigger and more closely resembling her smooth-plumed, creamy parents that she just looks comparatively tattier. It’s not just in appearance that the cygnet has progressed: all the while I stayed by the lakeside she was up-ending and grovelling around below the surface for food along with the parents, putting to good use her longer and stronger bill (still slate blue) and near full-sized green feet. It’s possible that this newer habit of immersing herself is contributing to the cygnet’s dishevelled appearance as the wet down tends to matt up like soggy carpet rather than fluff out. She’s stopped peeping like a chick too, though definitely not living up to the name Mute Swan for all the bubbles she was snorting with her bill under the water. The cygnet’s wings are now hand-sized flaps that pop up like pockets opening on her flanks. Loath as I am to anthropomorphise she’s got the sort of lanky look about her at the moment of a teenager who’s just had a growth spurt, though at seven weeks old this cygnet’s got plenty of time to blossom.

By the time I got home I reckoned my washing would be just about dry, except that true to form for Falmouth a cloud came over and did a short sharp shower all over everything just after I’d got in the front door. I love the smell it makes on the paving stones, but seriously – timing? Oh and a seagull had done a big muddy poo on my bedsheet. Now I know I’m back in Cornwall.

More on this?

And then there was one...     Water Babies     Sitting Pretty     Spring Sunday March  

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