Saturday, 8 October 2016

Learning to fly

I watched them from the time they were hatchlings; seven of them. I watched them grow as grey cygnets, the brood dwindling from seven to six, to five - and finally down to four. What killed the others, I don't know - virus? anglers' lines? poisoned by food thoughtlessly thrown to them by people? I watched them grow until they reached their parents' size.

Cygnets have an imperative to learn to fly before the ponds in which they were born freeze over. In early October, an unseasonable frost or first snow is still unlikely. Flight, however, remains the most important skill the young swans need to learn.

This morning I walked home from ul. Kórnicka along ul. Dumki. The swan family - two parents and four cygnets - paddled along parallel to me. I was halfway down the length of the northern pond, when the swans stopped, turned round, and faced north. Suddenly there was a great sound of flapping and splashing, as, heading into the wind, they starting running along the water, beating their wings harder in an attempt to get airborne; then retracting their undercarriage, gaining grace and altitude, they slipped the surly bonds of Earth.

I watched them climb higher and higher, bearing north-west. I stood there, until they were out of view. Will they do a large circle and return, or have they headed off (like the large gaggle of 37 geese I saw over ul. Karczunkowska on Tuesday) for the winter? From past years' experience, I guess they'll be back for a while. Last year, the swans didn't leave Jeziorki until the very end of December.

If you click on the label 'swans' at the bottom of this post, you'll see how this year's brood of cygnets has grown - and scroll down, you'll see past years' swan history of Jeziorki, from the first time swans found our ponds as a great place to live - since March 2008.

[An excuse to watch the excellent pop video for Learning to Fly by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers from 1991.]

This time two years ago:
Scotland's answer to the Hoover Building

This time three years ago:
In which I don't vote in the mayoral referendum, thus helping to save HG-W's job

This time four years ago:
Gorgeous cars from Czechoslovakia

This time five years ago:
Donald Tusk and Co. get re-elected

This time six years ago:
Poland's wonderful bread

This time seven years ago:
An October Friday in Warsaw

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