Sunday, 17 January 2010

The Ugly Ducklings - Part 6

Then over subsequent days I've looked out for them. The injured cygnet can be found alone at times, or hanging around with the family. When he's with the family he's like an outsider - he probably feels better with them, but his siblings have pecked at him for some time, and the adults are now pecking away at him at times too. I think they see him as a bit of a "drag". In this first photo you can see three of his siblings about to harass him for getting in their way. His other problem right now is that he isn't as big as the others - I assume because he has more trouble eating and is using more energy swimming. There must also be benefits from being in the group that he is missing out on.

His leg remains useless. he does seem to be able to move it a little, but I suspect it is dead from halfway down. So, when he's swimming he tends to drape it on his butt which must reduce drag. He has an ungainly and lopsided stroke, a little like someone swimming side-stroke. His right leg must be getting very strong.

He must also be getting more independent than the others, given their usual exclusion of him, and they way they disappear without him. However, I suspect this is not overall a good thing.

This one of his siblings is clearly larger, sleeker and more mature. The injured cygnet remains fluffier, and overall a little shabbier. The uninjured cygnets are developing their darker plumage quite obviously.

Anyway, he always seems to catch up with the family again. Here he is early this morning - a bit peripheral, but swimming along gamely nonetheless. I'm interested to see if he can survive - I assume not, but then I thought he'd be dead by now.


Denis Wilson said...

Well, it is both fascinating and a morbid interest at the same time.
Lets hope it works out. But could it ever take off and land?
I doubt it.
Something will surely take it out, at some stage.
On the north island, a Fox would do that, as they quite like swamps - easy pickings.
What about your Tassie Devils?
Nice images, especially the silhouette images.

Mark said...

I have felt a bit morbid. I've also felt a bit sorry for the poor little thing when he's been swimming around looking for his family at nightfall. The day I realised he was injured he was really struggling, and I assumed he'd die. He's surpassed my expectations, although with human help, and now I'm interested to see how he adapts and whether he can. I thought about the flying, and I think you're right, they work very hard with both feet to get off the "ground". And yes, something will probably eat him.