My latest wildlife journal page is of 4 different species of swan we see here in the UK - a bit like an identification page in a book! Not far from where I live and right on the border between England and Wales there is a field which I like to call the swan field as there is a large flock of wintering swans there containing 4 different species, our native Mute swan plus many Whoopers and Bewicks which have migrated here for the winter plus one lone Black Swan.
Mute swans aren't migratory birds like the Whooper and Bewick swan and many will spend their entire winter on their usual pond or lake but some will move short distances to form winter flocks like the ones we saw at Shotwick Lake. Mute swans as their name suggests are much quieter than their noisy relations and will make hissing and grunting sounds rather than the bugle like calling of the Whooper and Bewicks.
The graceful curve of a Mute swan's neck has inspired many artists and photographers and their wings make a loud, rhythmic and rather musical throbbing sound said to inspire the composer Wagner to write the Ride to Valkyrie. Whooper and Bewick swans in contrast fly in almost total silence, their long straight necks stretched out before them. They travel huge distances from their breeding grounds high in the arctic zone to spend their winters here in the UK.
With their elegance and unblemished white plumage so rare amongst wild birds, swans are the epitome of purity and beauty There is the exception of course of the black swan, sightings of which are being seen more and more in the wild obviously having escaped from captivity - they were introduced here as ornamental birds and certainly stand out amongst a large flock of white swans!