Swan Lake

Swan Lake, originally uploaded by Photography by Odille.

This pair of swans struggle along every year on the local wetlands to raise their brood. They always start off with 10 or so but are lucky to bring 2 to maturity. The problem is the eels that have gotten into the waters, they take the cygnets from below the water.

They are very accustomed to humans as the residents whose homes back onto the lake feed them regularly.

Canon EOS30D & 70-200 L f4, taken at Vintage Lakes wetlands, South Tweed Heads, NSW

Adult Black Swans have a mostly black body, with broad white wing tips visible in flight. Their bill is a deep orange-red, paler at the tip, with a distinct narrow white band towards the end. Younger birds are much greyer in colour, and have black wing tips.

They are found throughout Australia with the exception of Cape York Peninsula, and are more common in the south. The Black Swan has been introduced into several countries, including New Zealand, where it is now common, and is a vagrant to New Guinea. Adult females are smaller than the males.

Preferred habitat is larger salt, brackish or fresh waterways and permanent wetlands, and they require 40m or more of clear water to take off. Outside the breeding season, they often travel large distances, flying at night and resting during the day with other swans.

Vegetarians, they eat algae and weeds, obtained by plunging the long neck into water up to 1m deep. Occasionally birds will graze on land, but they are clumsy walkers.

Black Swans form isolated pairs or small colonies in shallow wetlands, and they pair for life, with both adults raising one brood per season. The eggs are laid in an untidy nest made of reeds and grasses. The nest is placed either on a small island or floated in deeper water. The chicks are covered in grey down, and are able to swim and feed themselves as soon as they hatch.

swan lake_MG_9753

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