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Wednesday 9 January 2013

An Affray

Mute Swans - Graceful, peaceful and sweet things. 
They can be the most vicious of creatures especially when it comes to territorial disputes.

Out walking I arrived at a scene in the Parkland yesterday morning where a male Mute Swan was encroaching upon the assumed territorial of another male and his mate. The territory was separated by a border in the shape of a wooden bridge between two large lakes. The encroaching male swam under the bridge with his wings angled in an arch like shape, the same shape was then adopted by the other male. 

The first shot below was the two males having already circled each other, then swam alongside each other. This looked like the start of trouble. 
(The light was very poor so these images leave a great deal to be desired)

Then a fight started and went on for several minutes.

A Canada Goose was acting as Referee.

Eventually the encroaching male having had enough tried to escape by leaving the water and walking across the grass. The other male not satisfied with that pursued the retreating male and attacked it again.
 By this time I was becoming concerned as I know that this could end in the death of the poor male that was being literally choked to death.

I am aware of many peoples views on letting nature take its course etc etc. Thats all very well when one creature kills another as part of the food chain. However this was pure evil on the part this Mute Swan which to me seems to be a trait in this species. 

I had seen enough and went to the aide of the retreating male. Having forcefully driven the attacking male off,  I observed the other male resting for a moment on the grass and then attempting to make his escape in the opposite direction towards the other lake. Again the attacking male returned from the water and tried to get to the other male. I then had to drive it off again. Eventually the retreating male left and as you can see from the image below, the other male joined with his mate on the water to greet each other. (Even though he had lost out to something much bigger than him.)


  1. Dramatic account and images Roy ! I'm glad the other swan managed to escape seemingly unharmed thanks to your intervention :)

  2. Hi Roy

    What an interesting post. I am glad you drove the other swan off as you say it was not as if it was killing for food. And that way you got to see the beautiful reunion.

    All the best.

  3. Oh goodness! I'm glad you took the decision to intervene Roy, I would definitely have had to do the same. It did look really nasty and I feared the worst....in fact I was wondering whether I should make a quick exit before the end! They really can be extremely vicious birds, I have seen battles on a lesser scale myself. An excellent series of photos and account of the event.

    I enjoyed your Jay post too, I haven't seen one for ages and never managed a photo.

    1. Thanks Jan, yes there are apparently quite a number of Jays this winter especially with the added migrators from the continent.

  4. Hey Roy...Ouch...I would have a hard time too watching that happen...We would like to think of birds and animals as so cute...but we know even humans have the dark eeks side!!
    Great captures of the dark side of beauty.. I don't think the goose makes a very good referee, but amusing thought!!

  5. Glad you took action, Roy. Funny how the postures are so staged and that there are so many similarities between the aggressive stances and the lovey dovey ones...


    1. Thanks Wilma.
      Aggressive an passionate, now there's a mixture.{:)

  6. Good grief, I have never seen anything like this before Roy. Good for you for coming to the other male's aid. Great shots!

  7. wow...what a series and story! I don't get to see these beautiful creatures so I didn't realize how violent they can be. The photos are amazing! I'm glad you were able to break up the fight (that Canada Goose wasn't doing his referee job very well) And then you even managed to get the final shot of the two happy mates in the water. Wow. This is great!

  8. Glad you sorted them out Roy!

    I witnessed the exact same behaviour last year and it sent a shiver down my spine to see how vicious and sustained the fight was!..they only stopped when another male swam over from the other side of the lake to split the up with a few 'grunts' and well aimed jabs with its bill, they then swam off like two naughty schoolboys that had been told off for fighting in the playground!...until the next time!!...[;o)

    1. Thanks Trevor, yes it is very unpleasant to witness this kind of behaviour.

  9. Roy, I'd have done the same.
    Dramatic pictures.

  10. Wow! What drama! I am glad that you intervened! I have seen male mallards do this as well, trying to drown the encroaching male! Yikes!


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