Esméralda is the nickname my friend has given the female Mute Swan in my local park (inspired by her ‘ring’ code). On my occasional meanderings through the park I offer a handful of duck food to the huge gathering of waterfowl around the ornamental pond and another handful to Esméralda and Mr Esméralda.
The ornamental pond is very much home to this pair of swans and they have been there for at least the last two years . I’m sure they are known to many families who take advantage of the council provided free duck food to feed all the grateful birds on this mini-lake.
It was the cause of great excitement for myself and my friend (and I’m guessing many others) when Esmé made a nest.
Esmé and her mate’s diligence paid off; out of seven eggs, four not-so-ugly-ducklings hatched! I even saw kids on bikes make visits to see the ‘baby swans’! It was heartening to see such affection.
A few weeks ago, on a visit, I saw a very subdued Esméralda and mate both unwilling to clumsily to come ashore from the small lake. Both mother and mate mournfully skulked mid-pond, keeping an unusual distance from their public.There was also a distinct absence of chicks. My friend and I frantically searched the park for any evidence of the Signets to no avail. We checked the local press, again to no avail. We resigned ourselves to think the worst, for the chick’s safety and of mankind! After all, they are cute fluffy animals that could make cute fluffy pets.
A week later I passed through the park again. The rain had returned and the walled stream where the swan family were last seen together was no longer the calm flow of water it normally is, but a strong funnelled torrent that could easily sweep a grown man away! Then it dawned on me; this was after just a single day of rain, not so long ago there where several days of continuous downpour. The signets never stood a chance. With sadness I called my friend and gave him the bad news. My only grain of consolation was that the family’s demise was dealt by nature’s hand.
So I wrote this sad story for Esméralda and her family.
The story given an added twist a few days ago! The subdued behaviour of the park’s resident swans may have been more sheepish than sadness. They have finally been persuaded to waddle out of the lake and … they are not Esméralda and mate! Maybe, just maybe, Esmé and mate followed the young signets downstream and are doing well else where! Thus leaving room for another pair to move into the vacant territory. Although this summer I won’t see Esmé and family grow, I’m sure the loyal parents will see this small family succeed.