Bereaved Fife swan is now a mum of six!

Elinor with the swan and cygnets at the Loch. All pics by David Cruickshanks
Elinor with the swan and cygnets at the Loch. All pics by David Cruickshanks

The sad tale of a swan from Kinghorn loch who lost her mate when he had to be put down after being badly injured when he was caught in fishing line, has had a happy outcome as she is now mother to six cygnets!

Locals feared that there would be no babies this year as her long-term mate was euthanised by the SSPCA in mid-April because his ankle was so badly damaged.

Elinor at the loch

Elinor at the loch

At that stage she had not laid any eggs, but a few weeks later loch users including members of the local canoe club which reported the original injuries to her mate, started noticing eggs in the nest she had made on one of the four barley straw rafts.

Elinor Chalmers, a trustee of Craigencalt Environment Trust, had also been keeping a close eye on events.

“We were not sure that the eggs were viable, so when a friend and I came up about three weeks ago and went to the bird hide with binoculars, we were thrilled to see first one little head, then two more.

“When I came back the next day and spoke to the carp fishermen, they said she was out and about on the loch with six cygnets!

The swan and her cygnets

The swan and her cygnets

“Everyone is absolutely thrilled, delighted and very relieved that she has managed to hatch them and look after them so well so far, but they are not out of the woods yet.

“Seagulls, geese and foxes are just a few of the predators she will have to contend with in the coming weeks, but so far she is proving to be a great mum and she is very protective of her cygnets, chasing the geese and ducks away if they come too close and constantly keeping an eye on them all.”

To help supplement her diet, Elinor created a special feeding receptacle from a plastic basin with holes drilled in the bottom which was fixed to the raft and every Tuesday and Thursday it has been stocked with porridge oats which the swans enjoy.

“She has been doing so well with feeding her brood that we are starting to cut back on the porridge, but lots of people are coming along and feeding them from the bank of the loch,” added Elinor.

“We would encourage them to bring along porridge oats or vegetables, because bread, particularly white bread is bad for them. It has no nutritional value and just bags them up.

“We are all hoping that all the cygnets survive. Last year she hatched five or six and four of them survived which was good.

“She seems to be coping fine without her mate and we hope that she will maybe start to look for another one and hopefully bring him back to Kinghorn Loch with her.

“From the ring on her we know she was born in Kinnesburn in St Andrews in 2010, but she has lived here for five years and this is her home.

“Everyone loves watching the swans on the loch.”