WIRES: Swans make a graceful exit
IN September 2012, local WIRES member Pam Attwater took two fluffy baby swans, cygnets, into care. Somehow separated from their parents, they were found wandering the streets of Lawrence. During the next five months these birds gradually grew and became independent.
They discovered the Clarence River next to the property and would spend their nights there, but returned to the farmyard each day. The smaller one did not return after a short while, but a male, "Swanee”, continued this routine until he was 12 months old. One day he left, leaving Pam wondering where he went and if he was safe.
Amazingly he wandered into the yard 12 months later and acted like he had never left. He visited for a week and then left again, repeating this ritual every year.
He returned in August 2017 and this time another little cygnet, "George”, who had lost his family also, was in care. Swanee sat near the baby's pen all day, every day, and unlike other years he didn't leave. He chased anything that came near the cage. After a month of 'babysitting', Pam let George out with Swanee during the day and he continued to look out for the little bird. George was still locked up safely at night with Swanee retiring to the river.
In October, a juvenile swan was found exhausted and slightly injured at Yamba beach. This too was brought into care with Pam and settled in very well.
Both George and the juvenile were locked up at night for a while longer to give George time to grow more and for the juvenile to fully recover. One afternoon, Pam noticed that Swanee had coaxed the other two into the river. She worried all night about them, however, found them well the next day. She left them and continued observation from her kayak every few days. Finally, Pam's last sight of the birds was seeing all three sailing in single file, Swanee in front with George safely in the middle, up the Clarence, off to continue their life in the wild.