Finally time for the big release
Last Saturday, Dick, Kay, Jackie and I met at the Rollo Centre early in the morning so that we could prepare for the big release.
A few months ago the RSPCA brought us a family of seven cygnets whose parents had both been killed.
The cygnets were a couple of months old when they arrived, and although we have five other cygnets, they are still very much in a group together.
We also have two swans, who have recovered from injury and are ready to go. They have bonded quite well with the cygnets.
The seven siblings all have their flight feathers and weigh between 7kg and 9kg, so a very healthy size (heavier than the adult swans), just right to set off into the wild.
The remaining five are still far too small and will have to stay with us a bit longer, but they will have more space in the big pond.
It took us a while to catch and check the two swans and seven cygnets, but they were soon snug in their bags, waiting while we caught the two eider ducks (one of which thinks it is a swan as it has been with the cygnets since it came in at just a few days old).
There was also a heron, which was a young bird that was not coping when it came in, but has improved greatly in the few weeks it has been with us. He had his own tall box.
Surprisingly, all the birds fit into my car – five swans in the front row, four in he second row, ducks and heron at the rear.
The weather was perfect, very calm, and the river was running slowly.
We took all the birds out of the car, releasing the heron first.
The river where we released him is quite shallow with gravel and he soon started pacing the river edge, looking for food, which was a very good sign.
Then it was the turn of the nine big birds and two ducks.
All three of us opened up the bags so they could all make a dash for the river together, which they did.
They all gathered together in a group, the cygnets keeping very close to the swans.
We stood on the bank and watched them slowly move down the river.
The swans were eager to meet up with another group of swans by an island in the river.
They swam behind the island out of sight so we decided it was then time to leave them to it.
As we drove back along the track we spotted them again with the group of swans all head bobbing and greeting one another, which was good.
I did wonder what would be going on if one of the group had been a partner to one we had released.
How would he explain the seven children trailing behind him? Perhaps he would be saying: “I really don’t know who they are, it was nothing to do with me.”
We were happy to get back to the Rollo Centre to clean the car and all the bags and carriers before having a welcome cup of coffee.
A very satisfying day.