For the love of two swans... deep and long lasting...

This morning I was fortunate to witness the touching and tender courtship ritual of a pair of mute swans. Mute swans usually pair for life, although, like humans, divorces are not unknown, nor are extra-marital affairs. A swan whose mate dies usually goes on to make another successful pair bond.

The ritual starts with gentle dipping of their heads and blowing bubbles in the water. Their movements are mirrored, and they seem to be performing a graceful and mesmerising dance. The feathers along the necks of both swans are raised in excitement, and as mating approaches, they intertwine their necks until it's almost hard to see where one swan begins and the other ends.

Male mute swan adults (cobs) may reach weights of 30 pounds. As the cob climbs on top of the pen, he pulls her neck above the water, thus ensuring she's not drowning under his weight. Their mating ritual ends in a charming display, with synchronous moves, cheek to cheek and 'walking' the water.

This photograph is the last in a sequence of sixteen, and this is one of those times when it's been particularly hard to choose one to blip. The whole series can be seen here.

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