Hissy and Scratchy the swans have made feeding the birds at the visitor centre feeding station an interesting experience in the mornings. Although it’s not a friendly one. When they see me arrive at the feeders, they swim to the bank, get up out of the water and waddle up to me hissing in an aggressive “feed me now, but keep your distance” sort of way.   I’ve noticed that if I squat down to put food on the grass they are much happier than if I stand up. I’m obviously more threatening if taller than them. But no matter how much I feed them, that aggressive attitude is always there.

Hissy and Scratchy, doing their thing.


But things have taken an interesting turn in the last few months, as there is a new swan around. George is a black swan, and much more socially acceptable. Black swans originate from Australia and four of them turned up here in August. We get a lot of exotic wildfowl here each August. Such oddities include teal from Argentina. There is no way these are birds which have got lost, but obviously birds which have not been pinioned properly in a collection, and then wander off as teenagers. Can’t possibly think of a place not too far away which breeds exotic wildfowl in such numbers ?

George the friendly swan


And George is really friendly. Even if he does have an evil looking red eye. He follows Hissy and Scratchy around but they continually rebuke him, which is quite sad. He tried to make friends with 8 whooper swans on the main lake yesterday, but they mistook his advances as an attack, and fled to Haverton.  Poor George.


So as he followed Hissy and Scratchy up the bank one morning, but was not allowed any of their food, I put some sunflower hearts close to where he stood looking all sad. And now …….…. Gloves are essential.  Birds never forget a food source and George is no exception. He now tries to get the food from my hand as I put it on the grass at the waters edge, where he mixes it with water before he eats it. I need to be careful with this. It wouldn’t be good if he waddled up to visitors and bit their fingers. That would make me a very bad warden.