Out walking recently I encountered a couple of old friends of this blog....
....the pair of Mute Swans who raised six cygnets last summer. The family have now departed the tender care of their parents - chased off by their father in all probability. But the bright winter sunshine has already turned the thoughts of the parents to this year's brood perhaps; the male was passing choice pieces of weed to the missus when I saw them at Long Meadow.
The meadow is an old water-meadow, a phrase often used and heard but seldom understood. These riverside meadows were designed so that they could be flooded throughout the harsh winter months. This was excellent news for the many waders and ducks that flourished on these lands despite the attentions of the wildfowlers. But the real reason for the flooding was to keep the ground just a degree or two warmer, giving the grass an earlier start to its growing season. Interestingly the land on the opposite side of the river is being returned to its former glory, not for duck-shooting or for early pasture, but as a nature conservation area.
To see earlier posts about the swan family click on the 'Swanwatch' label to the right of this post.