So there we were today, taking a quiet wander along the River Test in Hampshire at Mottisfont Priory in Hampshire when I was ‘set upon’ by mute swan and assaulted without warning. I managed to get a picture of the culprit.
Well OK, truth be told, I massively exaggerate and misrepresent. Nevertheless, I did get a bit of a surprise as I didn’t anticipate the swan completely bossing our meeting. This ‘swan encounter’ happened as a swan was heading upstream towards us. It was sticking close into the bank to keep out of the flow (elementary stuff for a swan). I was carrying the camera with a very wide 10.5 mm lens and thought something like ‘cool, may be I can snatch an interesting wide angle close-up snap here because its going to stay next to the bank. So, I just squatted and lowered the camera to my ankles and waited for the bird. As he approached, it was apparent that he expected to be fed. Again, I stood my ground, he hissed and snapped his bill at me (so giving me a good warning). Again, I stood my ground. So, he then he reached out as I was focussing and framing (not easy as it happens) and… it had a proper go at my my lens with its beak. I managed to get a few shots off! It was a failure technically but I like the shot all the same as it feels feisty.
I did have to carefully clean the front element of the lens but my fault, I’d been warned. Fortunately they are harder than a beak (it did jab it quite hard). I should have remembered that, with this lens, ‘objects may be closer that they appear through the lens’.
In reality, it was a misunderstanding and I didn’t take note of its messaging. It clearly thought I had food because most anyone (typically most adults ensure the are fronted by a young child here) approaching will normally be offering up a bread sacrifice. Swans here in the UK put the fear into most adults. I’m pretty sure this is because they have been ushered out into the path of swans before they are four, armed only with the remains of yesterday’s loaf and the caution of “be careful darling, they can break your arms” ringing in their ears. Traumatised from a young age.
Oh and on the subject of using kids to feed wild birds - don’t, they don’t eat them. Best not to feed birds bread either. It’s not got the nutrients birds need and they get filled up with useless junk (surprisingly, just like kids). Please do just use simple wheat grains. Wildfowl, do like that and so do kids; no not to eat, it just throws so much better and makes a nice fizz sound on the water.
(Gear, Nikon D500 body with a 10.5mm f2.8 Nikon DX lens. A brilliant lens for making big things look huge very close up but very small far away. Focuses to within 35mm of the front element. You just need enough time to frame and focus; which was the ‘technical issue’ the thing behind the camera had today.)