Friday afternoon, after the nor’easter, the sun came out just barely before the skies again darkened with a brief snow squall. I was driving along Atlantic Road during those fleeting in between moments when way off in the distance I spied a flock of birds, with the distinct shape of swans in flight. Swans fly with their long necks extended, unlike herons and egrets, which fly with their necks curved in. What on Earth is Mr. Swan doing out in this wildly windy weather I thought. But it wasn’t Mr. Swan, it was an entire family of Swans! There were two adults and four cygnets. Stunning to see and very uplifting. They flew over the Twin Lights and then further and further until I could not see them any longer.
The first and third swans are the adults, the second, fourth, fifth and sixth are the cygnets, or first-hatch year juveniles.The young swans will retain their grayish brown feathers until their second summer.
Please write and let me know if you saw the Mute Swan family on Friday afternoon. They were flying along the backshore at about 2:15. Or, if you live on the Northshore and know of any swan family with two adults and four youngsters, I would love to learn more about them. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you so much for any leads!
A few more of the Mute Swan family flying toward and over Thacher Island
Cape Ann’s beautiful blue-eyed swan is doing quite well especially considering he is at least 28 YEARS OLD. It is highly unusual for a Mute Swan to live that long. Wild Mute Swans live on average eight to twelve years. In captivity, they can live up to 40 years, but our Mr. Swan hardly lives the cushy life of a Queen’s swan. .
He is only occasionally a little gimpy on his bad leg. Mr. Swan still manages to rule most of Cape Ann’s waterways, from the Annisquam River to Rockport Harbor, and everything in between.
Rock On, Mr. Swan!
If you see Lyn Fonzo, please thank her for all that she has done over the past year in caring for our Young Swan and in trying to rehabilitate him to Niles Pond. Please thank and support Dr. Cahill, too, who generously donated his services.
As you may recall, the rescue cygnet was deposited at Niles Pond about ten months ago. Local residents Lyn Fonzo and Skip Hadden had been watching out for him and feeding him regularly, when he became frozen in the ice last fall. Lyn and Dan Harris rescued the Young Swan, and Lyn cared for him all winter long, feeding him and providing fresh bedding and water daily in a custom-made swan sanctuary.
Several weeks ago the Young Swan was released back to Niles Pond. Lyn has not yet seen him fly, not because of injury, but we think he simply does not know that he is a swan. Many species of birds imprint on the first thing they see upon hatching and when this little guy was found he was without parents.
Mr. Swan gave the Young Swan a tremendous thrashing today, as witnessed by several people, pounding his head against the ground and causing him to bleed. We can’t hold this behavior against Mr. Swan, he is just doing what swans do naturally, and that is to defend their territory, especially from other males.
Lyn volunteered to take the Swan back to her swan sanctuary while a new home is identified. Very unfortunately, it was determined that the Young Swan be placed in the OCEAN. The Young Swan has never swam in, or for that matter even seen, the ocean, and he cannot fly well. The excuse was that Mass Wildlife rules state that if an animal is not visibly injured it has to be returned to the wild. However, our understanding is that Mass Wildlife guidelines do not pertain to non-native species and to pets. The Swan’s caretakers were begging to keep the swan safe and not dump him on the beach, repeating that the swan would be cared for, yet, despite their pleas, he was taken to Niles Beach and released there.
He is currently swimming around and around in circles off of Niles Beach, in the harbor. We hope at some point tomorrow he will come to shore, where he can be recaptured and placed in a safe environment.
Please write and let us know if you know of a swan rehabilitator or potential long term swan caretaker.
Throughout the community people took the time to participate in Earth Day cleanups and events. I was only able to cover a small fraction of the events and locations. Let us know how you spent Earth Day weekend. We would love to post your stories on Good Morning Gloucester. Thank you so much!
Organized by Ainsley Smith and Nick Illiades from Gloucester’s Clean City Commission, The Great Gloucester Cleanup took place at six locations–St. Peter’s Square, Pavilion Beach, Washington Street, Cripple Cove, Good Harbor Beach, and Horton Street.
The volunteers filled over ONE HUNDRED BAGS OF TRASH!!!!!!!!
THANK YOU TO ALL THE VOLUNTEERS FOR HELPING TO KEEP GLOUCESTER BEAUTIFUL!
After the cleanup, a fabulous cookout was hosted by Jamie at her beautiful shop located right on the inner harbor, One Ocean One Love. Jamie provided the burgers and much of the food; Caffe Sicilia donated cookies; Pigeon Cove Ferments, the sauerkraut; and Ma and Pa’s, the pickles. Additionally Beauport Hotel, Clean Pro Gloucester, and Lone Gull provided breakfast. Please say thank you for supporting The Great Gloucester Cleanup to these local businesses by patronizing their establishments.
Meanwhile, over at Good Harbor Beach, I was watching the Piping Plovers this morning from 8am to about 10:30. With many volunteers expected for the Good Harbor Beach clean up location I thought there would be lots of folks interested in learning more about the PiPl, and yes, there were!
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Teagan Dolan, Gloucester’s awesome new animal control officer, fixing the PiPl roping that came undone last night. Many, many thanks to Teagan for keeping watch over the Piping Plovers!! Please contact Teagan at 978-281-9900 with any issues that arise over pets on the beach and in the dunes.
While there, I also met Gloucester’s new animal control officer Teagan (rhymes with Reagan) Dolan. He’s very interested in helping the PiPl and the dog officer’s stepped-up presence at Good Harbor has had a noticeable impact on the number of dogs off-leash and in the dunes at Good Harbor Beach. Teagan is suggesting to dog walkers alternative locations such as Plum Cove Beach and Cressies Beach. I showed him where the roping that cordoned off the nesting area broke overnight and he got out his trusty pocket knife and fixed it on the spot!
Then onto Eastern Point, with the great wildlife news of the weekend is that my friends Lyn and Dan released the Young Swan back to Niles Pond! You may recall that the Young Swan became frozen in the ice in early winter. Lyn has been kindly taking care of the immature swan all winter, housing him in a chicken coop remodeled (by carpenter Joel Munroe) just for a swan, replete with a heated pool.
Releasing the Young Swan at Niles
Lyn and Dan gently and humanely covered the swan with a blanket while carrying him to the water’s edge. Upon release, he immediately headed into a reeded area and then down to Skip’s dock where he took the longest swan bath imaginable, dip-diving and splashing for twenty minutes. When last I saw him, he was perusing the pond’s edge, becoming refamiliarized with his home territory.