White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Swans Come to Visit, Bartlett Pond, White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

This picture is remarkable only because you will note that dad swan, followed by seven cygnets and mom swan are making a beeline directly towards me. Odd behavior considering my recent experience with them on the water. Swan parents do not let me get near them and their brood when I am in a kayak on the water. Clearly though, when they decide they want to be close, well then, here they come.

I do not feed them nor otherwise encourage them to visit but, they are welcome if they so choose. It is, after all, their home.

As dad swan clambered up the bank, I knew the whole family would follow. Knowing how skittish they usually are I tried a new method this time. I sat still in one place and talked in a calm monotone as they approached. I kept talking as they walked by within two feet of me. Dad swan issued a mild hiss but nothing like I would have expected considering they were so close. It must have been the soothing gibberish I was speaking. Perhaps I could be a world-famous swan whisperer as a new post-retirement vocation?

The cygnets are curious but don't go past dad just yet.

Dad gets close to me and issues a challenge. I sit motionless and keep talking.

The cygnets stare at me, perhaps wondering what the strange noise is that the human emits. Dad stops hissing and moves on.

They decide to walk by me and head towards Milo's big rock.

But they turn around quickly and head back past me again.

Amazingly close this time. Dad gives me the evil eye but no hissing challenge. Usually, dad or mom will position themselves between me and the cygnets.

The cygnets decide a short rest in the soft grass is in order, dad keeps up his stare at me. Of course, throughout all this, I am mumbling my soothing monotone gibberish to them.

After a short rest, they are up again and head back to Milo's rock.

Mom glares at me this time but no hissing. The cygnets have no interest in me anymore.

They all settle in for another rest, parents included.

And after their rest, mom and dad together hustle the cygnets off straight down the hillside through the garden and brambles instead of backtracking to the easier steps and path.

They settle into the water. (I have positioned myself down on the dock for this sequence).

They mill about for a few minutes munching algae.

I think they are still hoping for a handout.

Realizing no food is forthcoming, dad gives me one last nasty hiss......

.....and off they go.

In sixteen springs on this pond, I have never had a swan family come so close up on land and stay so long just hanging out. It was a wonderful experience. Life is good on Bartlett Pond.

Note: astute photographers may notice that among the first ten images above, there is a soft spot in the center of the frame.  I realized half way through the event that I had a huge greasy finger smudge on the lens. I was not able to completely hide it in post-processing but, decided to use the images anyway to tell this story.  I am obsessively careful to protect my lens but, obviously not enough this time. This has been a powerful reminder to check my lens every time before starting a session of image-making. 


  1. Folklore and mystically speaking: “The Swan is one of the most ancient and powerful power animals.

    It’s all so beautiful…they are beautiful as was the course of action they took. I was looking for a tiny clue that would give me an idea of which cygnet hitched a ride on moms back the other day. After seeing the photos and reading your narrative… I was compelled to do a bit of research on the Swan.

    A male swan is a cob; a female is a pen, and the young are called cygnets.

    Aggressive Behavior: Swans are powerful birds, they bite, and their beating wings can break a man’s arm. Swans display aggression by lowering their neck, hissing, and rushing forward. They protect their territories from strangers and other swans, although they will tolerate ducks and smaller fowl. [glad papa cob swan did not rush forward…apparently your composure…posed no threat….yeaaaa!]

    “Papa Cob” is bold…coming ashore to check you out…and bringing the family. [each of those photo are near a thousand words if not more]

    In the 4th picture he takes stand and looks directly at you…showing strength... the 5th down below…his head is cocked to the side as if listening to what you are saying to him/them. In a few other photo it appears that the head is bowed down a bit...showing humbleness.

    When we listen to birds …we think they are singing…him listening to you…he probably thought you were singing. LOL Clearly there communication between you and the Cobs.

    He may have brought the family ashore to introduce you to them – showing you that he does not consider you to be a threat…but a friend because he has observed you out and about in the kayak. Stepping boldly ashore and hissing at you may also have been done to provoke you to see what you would do and the ‘hissing’ letting you know that he is capable of aggression if need be. Whatever the reasons on his part to walk up the embankment was a thought out plan. The whole of it is just so wonderfully bizarre...I mean he can confront… hue-man on land…but really can’t really do much to defend the cygnets in the water from the “snappers.”

    Another site/link I found stated: “The Swan is one of the most ancient and powerful power animals.
    A Swans graceful entering into your life signals a time of altered states of awareness and the development of intuitive abilities, for those with this medicine have the inherent ability to see the future, and to accept the healing and change that is starting in their lives. Accept this and it will help you go with the flow.

    The Swan’s Wisdom: awakening the power of self/the divine within, balance, grace, inner beauty, innocence, self-esteem, understanding spiritual, evolution, developing intuitive abilities, divination, grace in dealing with others and commitment.”

    *THANK YOU so much for spending time with the family and sharing with us what you witnessed.