Bishop's Palace swans give kids some tough love
THERE’S a family feud at the Bishop’s Palace.
When Wynn and Brynn, the palace’s swans, had seven cygnets five months ago everyone thought what a lovely floating family they made.
Now, however, it seems that the pair have had enough of domestic bliss and think it’s time the young ones flew the nest.
On a daily basis both pen Wynn and cob Brynn are seen giving a bit of stick to their five-month-old cygnets as they actively encourage them to learn how to fly and leave home.
“We noticed one cygnet out of the seven, nicknamed Billy as he was always left on his own and was picked on first, has had a particularly hard time of late. We think he may have been another cob that threatened Brynn’s presence,” said Sarah Moore, the palace’s visitor services manager.
More often than not it was Brynn who adopted a very threatening low posture in the water with wings aggressively arched up and chased Billy at high speed around the moat.
When Billy tired he received a nasty peck and prod and off he went again.
“We think Billy has now flown the nest as he was last seen skidding and splashing around the moat corner attempting to fly. He has not been seen since last week.
“We have had lots of worried residents and visitors coming into the palace to tell us what is happening,” said Paul Arblaster, Property Caretaker with wife Carol, who both feed the swans when they pull a rope to ring a bell on the side of the Gatehouse when they want some food.
“It is very normal for wild swans to behave in this way, forcing cygnets to leave the nest around six months old and it can be very distressing to watch.
“It’s a mixture of the parents marking their territory but also ensures in-breeding doesn’t happen, so it makes perfect sense in the natural world.
“Also, some of the cygnets are getting as big, if not a bit bigger than Wynn and Brynn, so naturally they are thinking they ought to move them on before they challenge them for their palatial residency,” said Paul.
Cygnets will often make roots with the first flock of swans they come across until they mature around four years old when they themselves then start to mate. And so the cycle continues.
Time will tell how long mum and dad’s patience lasts with the remaining six cygnets on the moat in Wells, who often look bemused as they motor away as fast as they can in zig-zags while looking back at their siblings for some help.