The pulsating life of that brood of cygnets was a delight. From an amorphous mass of soft greys amidst the flowers, snake-heads rose Medusa-like- exploring a world strange and new. How many snake-heads had Medusa- preening slate-grey bills. Heads rose on long, supple necks from the warmth and softness of a pillow of down, wispy down. Snake-head and bill rose distinct and nuzzled back into the pillow, each cygnet itself for an instant and merging once more into the warmth of the brood. A bill smoothed and explored what might have been a new wing, nibbling, nibbling the length of incipient feathers amongst the down. Where are my promised feathers, when will I find them and which are mine? Who and what am I in all of this? Oh brave new world that hath such creatures in it!
As a nature writer, I've always been intent on taking photographs for books and for this blog. Only in the last year have begun to make videos and they're a detailed record of behaviour. Wish I could share my cygnet videos but I've yet to learn how to do it. The video captures the fast-flowing river and what seems like still-life is transformed into tiny movements that tell what's happening here. Preening, and tending to feathers will be a constant preoccupation for swans, for all birds. Their survival depends upon it. During the half- hour or more I watched swans and cygnets the brood was preoccupied with preening. I never saw them feed.