By CleanSteve

The swans landing for my camera

It was such a beautiful sunny day I combined a shopping trip with a visit to Frampton Court lake for exercise and the restorative impact of nature’s bounty.

It seemed a quiet day on the lake as I walked around the west side. Greylag geese have arrived in large numbers and were grazing on the pastures under the old oak trees of the estate’s parkland. A few coots made suitable noises. Cormorants came and went from their high perches in the beech trees on the island. A few barnacle geese edged around the greylag geese but were heavily outnumbered.

On the water itself, which was as high as I’ve ever seen following this very wet winter, swans were spread around the whole of the large lake. I saw a great crested grebe and focused my camera’s attention on it, although it was rather distant swimming in the middle of the lake between the islands, diving down often for a good few seconds at a time. Some other walkers startled some geese which flew up from the meadow and  onto the water. The grebe moved whilst my attention was drawn to some other walkers, who chatted with me for a while. 

When I saw the grebe again it was tossing its head back and I realised it has caught a fish. I tried taking pictures of it but it kept looking away from me. I did manage a few shots with the fish halfway down its throat, but it failed to swallow it for a few minutes and so had to keep trying. Suddenly the fish was gone and the grebe swam to the far side of the lake, 

I walked further around to the promontory where I could get a wider view of the activities. A lot of geese flew back and forth, as did many swans. I counted thirty swans, mostly in pairs, or pairs with their last season’s cygnet now fully grown but with mottled feathers hanging around and waiting to be chucked out.

Some of the swans came up to where I stood on the shore, as if to inspect my food offerings, but they were all disappointed to find I had none, so they would drift away again. Some of the swans were taking off and landing swiftly. But others did circuits of the lake. One group of four swans appeared flying higher than the big trees on the island. this group did a circuit and flew away from the lake to the north and then circled around, flew back over the lake and disappeared to the south. I tracked their flight and took a few pictures. Then they returned and circled the lake again before flying behind one of the islands. 

They reappeared on the far side of the lake near the reeds having descended to a low level and I spotted them flying directly towards where I was standing. I was still photographing them and then realised they would be landing near me. As it happened this first swan of the four came straight for me and this blip image was my last picture before it halted about twenty feet from where I stood. I laughed out loud as it seemed to have been a deliberate act given their many options of landing zones which they had. Perhaps they were being aggressive as I had a camera lens pointing at them. But it made my day, and I’m pleased with the pictures of which this is just one of many.

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