It shouldn’t be happening. Bowness-on-Windermere swans are notoriously aggressive, and yet these two are approaching me as though I were another swan.
I’m not, obviously. But I am in the water with them. Why this is taking place needs some explanation…
We live a short drive from the shores of Lake Windermere. Our collie needs a decent daily walk, and the park areas around Bowness are ideal. There’s only one problem – the mud, especially in the winter. Winter walks, here, need a robust pair of wellingtons, often well into the spring.
The first part of the walk over, we headed along the shore, past the ferry point and up the slope towards the Costa Coffee shop; one of the few places open in the town- but only for take-aways, of course.
Returning with our coffee, we settled on one of the benches to watch the birds: mainly geese and several of Windermere’s beautiful but deadly swans.
And then I noticed a potential photograph, and remarked to myself that one would need to be a few metres into the water to do it justice. Looking down at my feet, I realised that I was equipped to do such a thing. I asked Bernie to hold my coffee, and to the surprise of several passers-by, waded out into the calm lake.
The first image was disappointing. I realised it needed a ‘vertical panorama’ to make a full mirror of the cloud formation that had drawn my attention. It’s quite an athletic operation when you’re practically knee-deep in icy water. But it was worth it.
Hearing a noise behind me and still holding the camera at arm’s length, I turned. Two large swans were approaching me, fast and stealthily. My first reaction was: “Well, if I’m going to get attacked, I might as well have the photo that goes with it…”
But they didn’t. They stopped a couple of feet from my wellies and stared at me, peacefully. It took me a few seconds to realise that my presence in the water had somehow reassured them. They escorted me to the shore and my laughing wife with her surfeit of coffee. I don’t expect ever to get a shot of swans like that, again, but I’m glad I got this one!
I’ll not be pushing my luck, though… I’ve seen them steal cheeseburgers from children… Mine, a long time ago.
©Stephen Tanham, 2021.
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, A journey through the forest of personality to the sunrise of Being.