Nairn river swans

Nine cygnets for the Nairn river swans. Most of the town, I hope, is as enchanted by the development as I am. They are two weeks old,  as reported by JT in his blog ‘Simply Superb Swans‘ and they are still vulnerable to attack by predators and will be for the next few weeks.  I caught up with the family a couple of days ago, on the lower river close to where it enters the sea, to find both parents and cygnets feeding along the river wall.

During our visit to Orkney earlier in May, we noted a large number of mute swans nesting around the mainland, mostly on Loch of Stenness and Loch of Harray. The conditions for swans is perfect, with abundant food supplies and prime nesting sites.  One thing that was fairly surprising were the number of nests close to roads frequently used  by walkers and cyclists.

This particular nest with Pen in attendance was close to the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar – right on the ness between the two lochs and right beside the road between several ancient sites. Loch of Harray is to the right of this shot and is a fresh water loch. The Cob was about 100 feet away on the loch but paid no attention to my attempts at photography.

I have my eye on you!

On the opposite side of the narrow isthmus was located a second nest, only 50 yards away from the first. This is Loch Stenness which is linked to the sea, so is of near full salt water.

When fully grown cygnets are finally chased off by the parents, they eventually group together in large numbers. The picture above is of the Brough of Birsey where 27 young swans had gathered together in the bay where feeding is good (not all of them are in the picture). Similar groups of young swans could be found around Loch of Stenness and Harray too, a testament to last years’ successful breeding season. On one cycle ride around Loch of Stennes, I counted over 7 separate nesting sites. Clearly, swans find the ancient landscape of Orkney as attractive as I do!


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