Last week's post was of swans, mayhem, and the devotion of a husband and father.
Afterward my attention was drawn to a recent incident in Britain, in which authorities felt compelled to relocate a family of swans. The father of the family, Hissing Sid, had maintained a desirable territory on the River Chelmer, Essex, for perhaps 25 years, growing “increasingly crabby.”
Sid, aka Horace, appears to have begun a vendetta against the Chelmsford Canoe Club, attacking canoes almost daily. His technique: knock oars out of people's hands, and then go after the canoeists themselves. They say he tries to peck holes in boats.
Finally he made the very bad choice of knocking a 13-year-old girl out of her canoe and then attempting to drown her.
Naturally, the worried people turned to the Queen – okay, to the Queen's Swan Marker, whatever – and got permission to relocate Sid, his wife Nancy, and their six home-schooled children. (English mute swans, if wild, belong to the reigning monarch. Because they do.)
A remote body of water with no canoes was located forty miles away in Sussex. This was the idea of the canoe club secretary, who said that she “thought of Lafarge, a quarrying firm, who are always digging large holes and filling them with water, so I gave them a call and they were able to help.”
Once the cygnets were deemed old enough to bear up, the entire family was captured, bagged, and taken to Sussex. They were reported to be “gliding serenely” around Gallows Hill quarry, which is closed to the public.
Perhaps they were less serene than they seemed. Violence is not the only tool at a swan's command. Instead of attacking Lafarge's estates manager, overpowering him, and forcing him to drive them back to Essex, the swans simply flew home, appearing on the Chelmer to the dismay of canoeists and the delight of swan viewers.
Or so we were told by the Daily Mail (whose website has some really obnoxious ads). “Asbo swan makes 40-mile journey back to his old stomping ground,” they proclaimed.
“Asbo” is short for Anti-Social Behaviour Order. That's an order under which a troublesome person is kept out of certain areas, or forbidden to do certain things. (Not the Queen's idea, Tony Blair's idea.) Apparently anti-social behavior can include such things as public drunkenness, vandalism, a type of breakdancing called windmilling, spitting, and of course, attacking canoes.
But according to more recent reports, the swan family now cruising up and down the beautiful Chelmer River, accumulating grievances, is not Sid, Nancy, and their sprogs. It is a completely different swan family, with one more cygnet. “This is a nice, friendly family,” said the canoe club secretary.
Let's hope they stay friendly. Why not give them free canoe lessons as a gesture of welcome? And let's hope Sid and Nancy continue to enjoy the privacy of their quarry.
The tale of Sid and Nancy was brought to my attention by Daffodil Planter, who has a splendid gardening blog. Sometimes Daffodil Planter's gardening interests and my animal interests intersect, as in her post about the Next Big Thing: Backyard Turkeys. Of course, turkeys seldom have to deal with canoes.