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Swan Stories

The Strange World of Swans

Here is Will and Guy's collection of stories, accounts and humour featuring British swans.

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Mister Asbo*

A Swan named 'Mr Asbo' has his wings clipped to prevent his returnSwan Story - Mr Asbo

An aggressive swan nicknamed Mr Asbo has had his wings clipped to prevent him returning to his Cambridge home. He and his mate were moved 60 miles (96km) away from the River Cam (Cambridgeshire, England) after his attacks on rowers escalated.

River managers who oversaw the relocation told us that clipping was normal to prevent the swans flying back, while they adjusted to their new site. They added that it was a temporary measure and the clipped wings would be replaced by fresh flying feathers in the autumn.

The swans were moved to a sanctuary outside the county under licence from Natural England, at the end of April.

*ASBO Anti-social Behaviour Order.

Rowers Troubled
The Conservators of the River Cam arranged for volunteers to relocate the pair after Mr Asbo's attacks - which had taken place since 2009 - became more aggressive. The swan had reportedly capsized a scull by mounting the craft, and had taken to flying at the outboard motors of larger river vessels.

A spokesman for Natural England informed us that it was satisfied the swans' relocation had been successful. He added, 'They seem very happy there. It's very quiet with nothing to disturb them. I don't think Mr Asbo will be going anywhere.'

Alternative Solution For Mr Asbo

In bygone times we could not only have killed the swan but stuffed it with all these other birds.

  1. Take One Swan -  stuff with:
  2. Goose
  3. Duck
  4. Mallard
  5. Guinea fowl
  6. Chicken
  7. Pheasant
  8. Partridge
  9. Pigeon
  10. Woodcock

See our Cormorant Recipe »

The Tale of the Swan and the Pedal BoatValentine Swans

Here is a problem: swans choose their partner for life.  A Black Australian swan nicknamed Petra has fallen in love with a pedal boat, which looks like a swan.  When winter came Petra stayed with boat rather than flying south.  This could have been fatal for Petra when the cold weather arrived.

In the end though local zoo chiefs took pity on the swan and gave her and her boat boyfriend a place to spend the winter, and this week the pair were once again on the lake together. According to biologists in Muenster, north-western Germany, Petra has been circling its plastic lover, staring endlessly at it and making crooning noises, all the typical signs of a swan in love.

Jim Todd's Swan Story: BBC News

'I was ambushed by a swan. I was fishing on a small river in Dorset when it swam past me, going upriver. I naturally stopped what I was doing until it was some 30m further on, and started casting downstream. But every time I looked upriver it seemed to be closer. Finally, when the current had pushed it to within 15m, it turned around and flew at me. It was a terrifying and humbling moment. All I could think was to run, but I had a steep bank with nettles behind me and scrambling up it in a panic left me with a face full of stings.'

Swan Joke

Maggie and Paula were playing golf when a bird flew overhead.
Maggie said, 'Look at that lovely swan.'
Paula replied, 'It was a duck.'
'It was a swan,' said Maggie.
Just then a golf ball was hit in their direction.
'Duck!' shouted Maggie.
'Swan!' screamed Paula.
'Bonk!' went the golf ball.

Accounts of British Swans

Mute SwanMute Swan
Mute swans are a familiar and impressive sight in Britain. Often found on ponds and rivers in parks and other urban areas. By tradition, all mute swans belong to the monarch. They are one of Britain's largest and heaviest birds, with a wingspan of up to 2.4 metres.

Male swans are highly territorial and first threaten intruders, striking an aggressive pose with wings arched over their back, before charging at them to chase them off.

Mute swans aggressively defend nests in springtime, and have been known to attack people using the rivers, like rowers, kayakers and anglers. But reports of injuries are rare and they are not usually strong enough to break a human limb.

Bewick SwanBewick Swan
Bewick's swans arrive in the UK in mid-October after breeding in Siberia. They spend the winter here in our comparatively warm climate, before departing in March. 

Whooper Swan
Whooper swans are large migratory birds that often fly in large 'V' formations. They can be distinguished from Bewick swans by their larger size, and from mute swans by their yellow bill colour.

Whooper Swan

See more interesting facts about swans

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Swan Lake

I don't think Tchaikovsky had this choreography in mind when he wrote "Swan Lake". How could anyone imagine a performance you are about to witness?

With a population of nearly 1.5 Billion, the Chinese had to locate one great dancer ... and they did.  Watch this superb swan performance.

Queen Elizabeth II Supervises Swan-upping

Throughout England the swan is protected from hunting and shooting, indeed the only person who is allowed to kill these birds is the Queen (or King).

In 2009 our present Queen Elizabeth II visited the annual Swan Upping census on the river Thames, near Windsor, England.  This was the first time in living memory that the monarch had visited the Thames to watch the swan-uppers count her swans. 

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