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The Swan

The swans are the largest members of the waterfowl family Anatidae, and are among the largest flying birds. The largest species, including the mute swan, trumpeter swan, and whooper swan, can reach a length of over 1.5 m and weigh over 15 kg. Their wingspans can be over 3.1 m.

Compared to the closely related geese, they are much larger and have proportionally larger feet and necks. Adults also have a patch of unfeathered skin between the eyes and bill.

The sexes are alike in plumage, but males are generally bigger and heavier than females.The Northern Hemisphere species of swan have pure white plumage but the Southern Hemisphere species are mixed black and white. The Australian black swan (Cygnus atratus) is completely black except for the white flight feathers on its wings; the chicks of black swans are light grey. The South American black-necked swan has a white body with a black neck.



The Swan

North Lanarkshire.

Scotland.

United Kingdom


Swans feed in the water and on land. They are almost entirely herbivorous, although they may eat small amounts of aquatic animals. In the water, food is obtained by up-ending or dabbling, and their diet is composed of the roots, tubers, stems and leaves of aquatic and submerged plants. Although swans only reach sexual maturity between 4 and 7 years of age, they can form socially monogamous pair bonds from as early as 20 months that last for many years, and in some cases these can last for life.

The lifespan of the mute swan is often over 10 years, and sometimes over 20, whereas the black-necked swan survives for less than a decade in captivity. These bonds are maintained year round, even in gregarious and migratory species like the tundra swan, which congregate in large flocks in the wintering grounds. Their nest is on the ground near water and about a metre across.

Unlike many other ducks and geese, the male helps with the nest construction. Average egg size (for the mute swan) is 113×74 mm, weighing 340 g, in a clutch size of 4 to 7, and an incubation period of 34–45 days. With the exception of the whistling ducks they are the only anatids where the males aid in incubating the eggs.

Swans are known to aggressively protect their nests. One man was suspected to have drowned in such an attack.

Drumpellier is a country park situated within North Lanarkshire Council, to the west of Coatbridge. The park was formerly a private estate. The land was given over to the Burgh of Coatbridge for use as a public park in 1919, and was designated as a country park in 1984 by the then Monklands council, part of Strathclyde Regional Council. Drumpellier Country Park covers an area of 500 acres (2.0 km2) and comprises two natural lochs (one of which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)), lowland heath, mixed woodlands and open grassland. The Monkland Canal lies towards the southern perimeter of the park. The lochs and the canal attract a large number of water birds, both resident (such as swans and mallard ducks)and over-wintering migrants, and the loch shores and woodland floor provides an abundance of wild flora. The woodlands are also rich in bird life, small wild animals and many types of fungi.

The lochs at Drumpellier are part of a chain of kettle ponds formed towards the end of the last ice age. As the glacier that covered most of Scotland slipped down towards the sea it churned up great tracts of land. This created the great lochs, such as Lomond and Linnhe, and also produced small pockets of water such as the Garnkirk chain of Hogganfield, Frankfield and the Bishops Lochs (an SSI that comes under Glasgow City Councils administration) that include Drumpellier's Lochs, Woodend and Lochend. The loch side path is approximately 1 mile long and it is suitable for bikes.

Ref: DP485

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