Is there a more graceful sight than that of a mute swan gliding seemingly without effort on the glassy surface of one of our many lakes?
It is our biggest bird in these islands and rather ungainly on land. But on water they have no equal in mysterious elegance.
They are much less vocal than most, preferring to sail in companionable silence. Perhaps it is no wonder that all kinds of myths and symbols surround them.
Mute swans are not actually mute. Yet their quiet ways found their way into the myth, from which has come the notion of 'swansong', that it was only before their death that they would sing. There was also an ancient belief that the souls of the great poets passed into swans. Apollo, the god of song, was said to transform himself this way. A more modern myth is that swans mate for life. Some do, and there is evidence that those who do are more successful at breeding. But it is far from being an absolute.
Today they are probably more associated with peace and tranquility, overlooking the more vicious side of their nature, especially when defending their nest.
Their beauty is undeniable - and when it comes together with a calm and glorious autumn afternoon on one of our many beautiful lakes, the result is stunning.
In order, the lakes that feature here are: Oxford Parks, Derwent Water, Marlacoo Lake and the White Lough.
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