Don’t try this at home

Black Swan with cygnets, Canberra

Black Swans are a familiar sight throughout much of Australia. They can be found on artificial lakes and ponds, rivers and swamps, wetlands and reservoirs and estuarine waters. These graceful birds are delightful to see when accompanied by a small family of cygnets, as in the photo above.

Recently however, my wife was reading through a very old recipe book handed down to her from my mother. There was no publication date but could well have been bought in the 1930s. It has many tried, tested and recommended recipes from the rural communities of Australia in that era.

My wife was amused to read in this book that one native swan egg was considered the equivalent of three hen eggs.

Mmmm – don’t try that at home – or anywhere else for that matter. The early settlers and pioneers – as well as the indigenous people of Australia would have used swan eggs for survival. These days, of course, all native birds, their nests and eggs are highly protected by law. Taking swan eggs from a nest risks a hefty fine, so don’t even think about it.

Black Swans in an unusual place

My wife and I join a friend on a morning walk every weekday. On our way home we pass a small dam about half a kilometre from our home. This dam was constructed on a vacant block of land by our local council several years ago. It stores storm water from the nearby streets. Some areas near here have a flood mitigation problem only discovered about five years ago during an extremely heavy downpour one afternoon. The council workers pump water from this dam to use in watering street trees and to dampen road works where necessary.

I’ve kept an eye on this small reservoir ever since it first contained water. Generally all I see is a few Pacific Black Ducks, Straw-necked Ibis and a collection a Masked Lapwings (which have been seen breeding there). Welcome Swallows are also regular visitors, and I am sure the local population of White-winged Choughs use the wet mud on the edge of the water to construction their mud nests. One one occasion I also saw several Black-tailed Native-hens.

A few mornings ago I was surprised to see several Black Swans gracing the water. This species is not all that common around here, though I have seen several recently at the nearby Rocky Gully Wetlands, about three kilometres to the east.

One day I will get around to making a list of all the species I’ve seen in this dam.

And then I will need to find a way of encouraging the swans to fly over our land so I can count them on my garden list.

Black Swan with cygnets, Canberra

Black Swan with cygnets, Canberra