© Brenda Long
Right, so I promised I’d start blogging about something other than my lack of blogging today, so here we go. I’ve a folder full of lovely things I’ve encountered in my travels through cyber space which are just dying to be shared, but instead I thought I’d kick things off with a wee story I was working on for the paper last week which warmed my cockles, and I hope it will yours too. It wasn’t what you’d call earth-shattering breaking news, but it was one of those little tales that fills you full of warm fuzzy rainbows and sunbeams :)
As any of you in the British Isles will know, summer has yet to grace these shores. Aye, it’s been fairly warm, but it seems like everywhere is taking turns at been washed out of it, and here in Inishowen it’s been no exception. Around two weeks ago we had a month’s rain in one day, with flash flooding in many areas. One of the places to be quite badly hit was a little local island called Inch, which is home to a beautiful lake and wonderful wildfowl reserve.
The reserve itself is a sanctuary for many migrating birds and other aquatic animals, such as ducks and otters, as well as hundreds upon hundreds of swans. Usually they make their nests off the beaten track and are best viewed from the observation huts dotted around the lake, but this year one of the swan couples built their little home right alongside the main causeway road into the island, in full view of all the passing locals. As anyone who’s ever witnessed it themselves will know, swan couples are really very sweet and endearing – especially the way the cob is so attentive and protective of the pen and their eggs – so as you can imagine the small community on the island, who had been watching them build their nest and grow their brood for weeks, became quite protective of the young family.
© Chiara Boyle
Then disaster struck – during the recent rains the lake tide began to rise and the nest was in danger sinking. The eggs were actually floating away! Thankfully, someone spotted what was happening and called in the help of two local men who braved the torrential weather in attempt to save the unborn cygnets. They rescued the eggs from the water and built a pallet for the nest to float on, and after a nervous wait the mother even sat back atop of it despite the interference. At that stage it was still unclear whether her babies would make it or not, though, because the eggs had been ice cold by the time they were put back in the nest.
That was yesterday fortnight ago, and on Monday morning I got a phone call from one very excited Inch resident – the eggs were hatching! By the time I went up only two of the six had hatched, and while there were fears not all would make it, anyone I was talking to was just so happy any had survived at all. Eggs had perished in years past due to bad weather because people couldn’t get to the nest in time to save them, so you can imagine their joy this time. I was especially pleased for the local children – there was a pre-school nearby and the teacher had been taking her pupils down daily to check on the nest and to teach the kids about wildlife, so they were especially concerned then excited to watch the whole thing unfold. Then there was the proud swan mammy herself – she kept lifting up her wing to show us the two little cuties, as if she was boasting ‘look what I did!’ (I realise she was probably just giving them a little air, but don’t ruin my fantasy.)
It got better too. On Thursday a local man – David McCauley – sent us in these beautiful images of the proud family. Yup, all six cygnets hatched safe and well!
© David McCauley
As I said, it’s not the most hard-hitting news story I’ve ever written, but I challenge anyone to go up and see those little fluffy babies, and talk to those locals who are still brimming with pride, and not be cheered up. Go on, tell me you’re heartless!
At this point I’d like to say thanks to Brenda Long, Chiara Boyle and David McCauley for the wonderful photographs. I have some of my own but yours were so much better.