Generally, swans mate for life. However, this is not always the case….
Floppy, as we had now taken to calling him – (Penelope no longer seemed appropriate, for obvious reasons) – settled down and seemed to become resigned to being alone. I carried on making sure he was well fed….a diet of mixed corn and wholemeal bread….he grew into a magnificent specimen….
He became a regular companion when we worked in the garden. If I was indoors, I would often spy him through the window, waiting patiently for food, at the top of the steps by the back door….
Then, one summer’s day in 2011, another pair of mute swans arrived on the scene. For a couple of weeks, chaos reigned. Floppy was extremely interested in making friends with the female but her mate was having none of it. The two males fought constantly, it was quite distressing to witness….
It soon became obvious the intention of the new comers was to oust Floppy from his home, they wanted his territory for themselves. So, collectively, the residents of the Corner began to actively discourage them. Not cruelly, of course, just plenty of loud hand clapping and a little bit of chasing, enough to show them they were unwanted. Fortunately, they soon got the message and departed…. and our boy was able to claim his home back….
Evidently though, Floppy had made an impression on a certain lady swan. It was the Autumn of 2012 and he had gone off on one of his ‘jaunts’, as he still did from time to time – (I no longer worried as he always returned eventually). One Sunday morning, I was doing a spot of clearing up in the front garden, when my neighbour stopped on his way past the gate. He had just walked across the Common and he remarked that “all hell was breaking loose in the village”. Apparently, three swans were fighting in the middle of the main road…. Naturally, I was concerned but I didn’t have to be for long….
It was about half an hour later when I saw two swans determinedly making their way across the Common in our direction. As they approached, I recognised the one in the lead as Floppy and he was making a ‘bee line’ for the garden gate. What happened next I can only describe as an honour…. He brought his new lady friend directly to me, in order for us to meet….I am sure she was from the same pair that had landed here the previous year. I later learned that the other swan had flown off, accompanied by a cygnet…. Floppy had won the contest and procured himself a wife. I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for the other male and I had to raise an eyebrow at the morals of this new spouse of Floppy’s…. So much for swans mating for life….
This new female became known to us as ‘Lady’…. although I’m not quite sure if she actually deserved that name, as by deserting her original family she had hardly behaved like one…. However, she has obviously found happiness with Floppy as they have been inseparable ever since….