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Mute Swan and Cygnets, Boating Lake, Kearsney Abbey, Dover, Kent, UK

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John Latter on May 5, 2007

A pen mute swan (1) and two cygnets on the northern edge of Kearsney Abbey's boating lake. Note the camera shy female mallard duck to the left of mother swan.

Image/Photo taken on May 1st, 2007. Other images taken on the same day include a feeding swan and a nesting swan - but use tags such as "Birds" or "Kearsney Abbey" to check for later additions.

(1) From the Mute Swan Factsheet:

Breeding. Mute swans pair for life and they mate and begin buiding a nest in March and April. The nest is built on the ground, near to water, in an undisturbed place.

The cob collects reeds and sticks, bringing them to the female so she can arrange them. The nest is often a very big platform-like structure, and may be the pair's old nest which has been rebuilt and used year after year. Although the cob and pen look very similar at first glance, they can be told apart by looking at their beaks. In the spring and summer the cob's bill is a brighter colour than the pen's, and the black knob is more bulbous. The cob is never far from his mate on the nest, keeping an eye out for intruders. If a potential predator gets too close, he will hiss at them (mute swans are quiet birds on the whole, but are not really mute!) and if necessary will charge at them with flapping wings - a swan is capable of breaking a human's arm or leg with his strong wings.

The pen lays 5 - 8 large, greenish-brown eggs, one every two days. She does most of the incubation, which starts as soon as the last egg has been laid. This allows all the young to hatch at the same time, after 36 days. Soon after hatching, the young swans, called cygnets, covered with fluffy, grey down, leave the nest. Their parents pull up water plants for them to eat, and they snap up invertebrates (minibeasts) from the surface of the water.

The cygnets stay with their parents until the next winter by which time they are losing the brown plumage that replaced the grey down. It will be a full year before they are completely white, and they are ready to breed when they are three or four years old.

Standard Info:

Extracts from the plaque inside the Abbey grounds

Kearsney Abbey, on the opposite side of the Alkham Road to the Manor House, was built in 1820-22 by John Minet Fector, son of Peter. It incorporated many remnants of medieval Dover, such as parts of the town walls and churches, which John had collected during redevelopment of the town. Because of its mock medieval appearance the house and grounds were given the title Kearsney Abbey even though there had never actually been such an abbey.

...During the Second World War (1939-45) the house was commandeered as an army headquarters after which the house and grounds were purchased by Dover District Council as a public park.

...A phased programme of demolition began in 1959 and sections disappeared until only the west wing containing the billiard room (now the cafe) remained.

More information, including historical details from the Norman Conquest onwards, can be found here.

From the wikipedia entry for Kearsney Village:

Kearsney is a village in Kent, although at one time it would have been called hamlet due to there being no church in the village. The name is taken from an old Saxon name for a place where watercress grows. Kearsney is situated between the parishes of River and Ewell. Being an administrative part of Dover borough it was part of the parish of River.

The River Dour flows through Kearsney from west to east to form the central lake.

Also see Connaught Park and Pencester Gardens.

© SisAnnick on December 5, 2007

so cute !!!

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on May 2, 2007
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX Optio 33LF
    • Taken on 2007/05/01 13:54:35
    • Exposure: 0.004s (1/250)
    • Focal Length: 17.40mm
    • F/Stop: f/5.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO100
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • Flash fired