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Swanson meets Shirley

Swanson has been enjoying life here at the farm since he arrived last spring. There are two ponds on the farm; one on either side of the long driveway. Swanson prefers the larger of the two, on the left of the driveway, and has selected it as his regular swimming hole. It could be because this pond is not only larger, but also has several small islands to provide cozy safe places to sleep, and maybe somewhat fresher as water flows in and out of a nearby creek.
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A large number of geese have been enjoying both ponds this year, but it wasn’t long before we noticed the geese had been chased out of the larger pond – Swanson’s favourite to the smaller one. He is clearly very territorial.
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Not long after Swanson’s arrival, two swan visitors flew in – Trumpeter Swans, tagged as 981 and E51. Swanson is a Mute Swan and is not tagged or able to fly. The visiting swans likely spotted Swanson while flying above and thus considered his pond to be a safe resting spot. They stayed long enough to enjoy a few days of daily corn kernels and then went on their way again.
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During the really hot days of the summer we thought Swanson had gone missing, but after a bit of a search discovered he had found himself a small secluded pool buried deep in the bush just beyond the pond.

Most days however, Swanson is either gliding across ‘his’ pond, resting in the weeds on the centre island, or waddling through the lush grass along the edge.

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Swanson is quite responsive to Aunt Scarlett’s daily visits; she tosses him kernels of corn and when she walks around the pond he follows along in the water. In fact, he has even come to recognize her white car and swims toward it whenever she drives up or down the driveway.
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As Aunt Scarlett thought Swanson could be lonely it was decided that Swanson needed a mate to share his pond, but finding one took a bit of time. Finally Shelley, who works here at the farm, and loves searching the internet for interesting critters of all types, located a young female at a nearby B&B. The owners of the B&B have bred swans for some time.
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Aunt Scarlett was able to pick up a four-month old female in mid October. Kim, another of the girls working on the farm – she works with the parrots , has a way with names, and named the new swan ‘Shirley’. Unbeknownst to her that was also the name of her breeder!
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The day before Shirley arrived, Swanson had four more visitors – four tagged Trumpeters, one of whom had been here in the spring, 981 and three others A10, H26 and K06. Like our spring visitors they stayed a day or so to rest before heading off on their journey. As usual, Swanson kept his distance.
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On her arrival, Shirley gingerly made her way into the pond after being released from her carrying box. Swanson seemed pleased; at least he was not obviously unfriendly, nor did he seem to keep his distance as he tends to do with visiting swans. In fact, the next morning they were swimming close to one another; it was a blissful scene.
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Most mornings Jan, who also lives here at the farm, walks the dogs and checks in with the various critters, including the swans. On the morning of Shirley’s second day, Jan spotted another group of visiting Trumpeters – this time untagged, visiting Swanson’s pond. A total of six swans had arrived; it appeared to be a family of two adults with four of this year’s brood (cygnets).

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This group may not have been quite as friendly as past visitors perhaps because they included another male and some young swans. We don’t know what happened but Swanson appeared to sustain an injury; blood being visible on his wing, though no lasting damage. Needless to say he had no interest in staying on his pond.
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In fact, in very short order, Swanson left the pond and moved across the driveway to where the geese swim. He clearly stood out in the crowd but seemed more comfortable here. Fortunately the visiting swan family left the following day but Swanson preferred to stay on the goose pond, leaving poor young Shirley on her own.
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We were concerned that Shirley would feel lonesome or frightened on her own and several times tried to encourage Swanson to return to his pond. However Swanson took his own sweet time before returning; and finally three days later he ventured again across the driveway to be reunited with Shirley.
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The good news is that they seem to be happy sharing Swanson’s pond together, and appear to be bonding well. They also faired quite well during this winter’s first, surprise, snowfall.
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It won’t be long until the pair will be moved into the barn to keep them warm and safe throughout the winter months. How that will happen remains to be seen.

In the meantime, Kevin, who works here at the farm, has built them a lovely swan shelter for protection.
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