BIRDS 55 – MUTE SWAN: A CLOSE ENCOUNTER OF THE FRIGHTENING KIND

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Aggressive cob Mute Swan beating a wary retreat, on Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 14 May 2014.

Its that time of year again, the birds’ breeding season.  And as I coasted into the Magic Carpark, bent on thick, bitter marmalade sandwiches and piping hot, sweet coffee, I got out of the car door to find myself almost on top of a male (cob) swan that had been feeding, unseen, in the watery ditch beside the track.

As befits such a clumsy (if unwitting) act, I was met with instant aggression, the bird hissing and, with half-opened wings, advancing towards me, part way up the ditch’s side.  I have a lot of respect – and affection – for these large and powerful creatures.  In a situation like this, surprised and aggressive, they are certainly to be taken seriously.  So I froze, backed up against the car, palms on the bodywork, ready to instantly regain the car’s interior or to run like hell, as events demanded.  We eyed each other warily, and constantly.

Overcoming his fear and surprise, he cooled down a little, partly dropped his wings, and settled more back into the water again.  I stayed frozen, and gradually, and plainly still not at all sure about me, he swam slowly away, with his wings still partly raised, and with frequent glances back at me.  It was only then that I dared reach for the camera.

An encounter with Nature – in the raw!  Potentially dangerous, most certainly, and frightening too, most definitely.  But then, that’s a part of what Nature is all about – its not some cosy, armchair version of events, its real.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 200 ISO.
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About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

28 Responses to BIRDS 55 – MUTE SWAN: A CLOSE ENCOUNTER OF THE FRIGHTENING KIND

  1. I’m sitting here reading and picturing this while affair and now you have me in stitches. Thanks for that. Beware the angry bird!
    Fondly, from ATP
    (You are racking up a lot of activity on your blog. Sweet! xxx)

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  2. Robert says:

    Serenity and severity Adrian 🙂

    >

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  3. Sallyann says:

    I love the way he’s still keeping an eye on you over his shoulder. 🙂

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  4. krikitarts says:

    I think many of us who love the outdoors may have stories of big bird encounters. Mine was in Australia. I was (respectfully) photographing some apparently tame swans with cygnets; the adults seemed to tolerate my presence unconcernedly–until I turned around and walked away. The male came up behind me and whacked me behind the knee with a huge, hard wing. I can’t recall ever having been more surprised! Please remind me never to try this with a goose…

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    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Yes, definitely not with a goose! >>> and this is not meant to be one upmanship, but not with an ostrich either – I have no specific incidents to relate, and I can’t remember how I got so close to them – they might have been tame ones, or maybe a head came in through a safari vehicle window – but quite forgetting their powerful kicks, those beaks on those long necks got just everywhere and anywhere! Thanks for your thoughts my friend! I hope you’re fine! Adrian

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  5. Helen Cherry says:

    Well said my friend.. we do well to remember that nature is really in charge… As you can see I am back and posting again.. I lost my desire to edit photos ( not to take them though 🙂 ) I got a pension forecast the other day Adrian and it’s my intention to go on or not too long after my 62nd birthday in Feb 2016… so 22 months to go 😀 😀 😀 I’m on the countdown !

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    • Adrian Lewis says:

      62 sounds good, Helen, its more or less what I did – I’m living on my work pension now, with my state pension starting early next year. You’ll get a tax-free lumpsum too, which is very handy (understatement!). DEFINITELY GO FOR IT, my friend, and GOOD LUCK!!! 🙂

      Sorry – don’t know if that’s the right word – that you’re off photo editing, but these things come and go, and I think its important to go with the flow, not try to fight against it. Take good care of yourself! Adrian

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      • Helen Cherry says:

        I don’t get a tax free lump sum Adrian.. when I moved my pension from council to NHS I gave it up but had about 6 years added on instead and have all my pension at a 60th instead of an 80th .. It was all carefully looked at and this was the most prudent thing to do. I may not take my pension at 62 but will leave and either get a little job or live frugally for a year or so and get pension at 63 or so.. anyway pressure is off a bit or at least there is light at the end of a very dark tunnell ! who’d be a social worker these days!

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        • Adrian Lewis says:

          Yes, light at the end of the tunnel, that’s the thing! Didn’t know you’re with the NHS. I bought extra pension years throughout my toil, and ended up with an extra 7. A

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  6. Malin H says:

    When I was a child I was very afraid of swans… I have an early memory when me and my two sisters were out in a small rowing boat and suddenly there was a swan (next to the boat)… and he hissed. We hurried, of course, to row back and the swan followed us and he chased me all the way up to the cabin where we were during that summer. Since then I got this respect for swans….

    It’s a beautiful bird and a beautiful image. 🙂

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    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Respect is certainly the thing with these big birds – and what a terrible story ..that’s been with you all your life! But glad you like the picture – it reminds me of the moment he and I had! I hope you’re well, Malin – and happy too – that’s the thing! I saw a great portrait of ?your daughter? on Freshly Pressed, which I shall get to soon. Adrian 🙂

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      • Malin H says:

        I’m well, thank you. 🙂 I hope you are well too, my friend.

        Oh, freshly pressed?! How wonderful. 🙂 I’ve seen that people put “Featured on freshly pressed” on their blogs, I would like to have that on my blog too, but I don’t know how to do it…

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        • Adrian Lewis says:

          No quite sure what you’re saying here, my friend. If you’re asking how to get your posts onto Freshly Pressed, I THINK that ALL posts are published there. I put the word “photography” into both the Category and the Tags on every one of my posts, and then view Freshly Pressed having selected for “photography” and my posts are always there.

          There are also posts from other Categories/Tags there too, but most of them have good images.

          If you’re asking how to have the words “featured on Freshly Pressed” shown on your blog, then you could use a widget to insert some text at the top of your blog’s sidebar (does your blog have a sidebar, I can’t remember???), as I have with “Hi! I’m Adrian Lewis …”.

          Let me know if you want to know more and I’ll give you more info. Adrian 🙂

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          • Malin H says:

            “If you’re asking how to have the words “featured on Freshly Pressed” shown on your blog” – Yes, this it what I mean. 🙂 I can’t find the widget though… And yes, I have a sidebar.

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            • Adrian Lewis says:

              I’m using the Text widget, and here is what is in that widget for the words just below the top of my sidebar:

              “Title:
              All photos are my copyright and all rights are reserved.

              I greatly enjoy seeing other photographers’ work. Look way down below here for >>> POSTS I’VE LIKED RECENTLY <<<. There's really good stuff there – often from "Freshly Pressed" – and new images appear frequently – LIST UPDATED 18 MAY”

              The “Title” is a small, separate text box. Hope this is useful, Malin. A 🙂

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              • Adrian Lewis says:

                Sorry, didn’t get that 100% right – in the Title box are the words “Hi, I’m Adrian Lewis …. ” etc.

                And then in the main text box are these words, with a blank line after “reserved.”.

                “All photos are my copyright and all rights are reserved.

                I greatly enjoy seeing other photographers’ work. Look way down below here for >>> POSTS I’VE LIKED RECENTLY <<<. There's really good stuff there – often from "Freshly Pressed" – and new images appear frequently – LIST UPDATED 18 MAY”

                A 🙂

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              • Malin H says:

                I know how to use the text widget, I have some stuff on the sidebar on my blog, like “My official Facebook” and so on… What I was wondering about is how to get the “Freshly Pressed”-logo. Is there a special code for that? I’ve searched on the Internet and I’ve seen that there are others who would like to know too, and I can see any answer that makes sense to me. 🙂

                Thank you anyway, my dear friend. 🙂

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                • Adrian Lewis says:

                  I don’t know – hang on while I get more blood into my alcohol stream – what about a simple copying of the logo and pasting it into the text widget? Or, ask WordPress Support, whom I’ve found quite helpful. A

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  7. Sonali Dalal says:

    It really feels nice to be back to blogging and your blog. I am recovering, though comparatively slowly compared to previous one. Have started working part time. Somehow, yet do not feel interested in lifting camera and doing photography. I hope that need returns soon. Have also left social media like g+ and Facebook temporarily as somehow that obsessive need to be there I felt was unhealthy. Blogging is more leisurely and no one demands immediate response.

    How have you been?

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      I’m glad to hear you’re getting better, albeit slowly – take a lot of good care of yourself, my friend! And don’t worry about the unappeal of photography, just be yourself and see what happens. Are you happy about the Hindus’ election win? I imagine so.

      An “obsessive need” to be on g+ and Facebook does sound EXTREMELY unhealthy, and really not something to get immersed in – I’d hate that! Blogging is better – definitely – no immediate responses >>> and I’m always late!!!!!! 🙂

      I’m doing alright. I still can’t see my feet(!) and have actually bought a pair of scales to check my weight and, yes, I have some …. oh, alright…. too much! 🙂 …. Also I’ve made a journey northwards to see my ageing and ailing cousin – I’m the executor for his Will. And, after a gruellingly wet winter, I’m enjoying the warmth and longer days as the seasons change.

      Look after yourself – just take things easy and look after yourself! Adrian

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      • Sonali Dalal says:

        I am extremely happy about result of the election. He was chief minister of my state. And he has worked wonders in 12 years he ruled. And the development has been all inclusive, irrespective of religion, caste or creed. People of India realised that and voted for him. His brand of Hinduism is much better than pseudo secularism of other parties. Ohhh I can go on and on. …

        Facebook I reduced long back as I realised that it is competitive in unhealthy way because you have mainly locals as your contacts. It is actually place for gossiping I feel.

        I have some wonderful friends on g+ too. But as I was and am still managing many communities there, my constant presence was required. Which became rather too much to handle. As I have committed myself, I will have to do that too , but first I need some time away from it. I will also fix my timings there. No doubt I got much better response there than blog, it needed to be reciprocated. I can be lazy here and I am. I just post for sheer enjoyment and love of it without worrying about response.

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        • Adrian Lewis says:

          I’m very glad to hear your views on this political news – let’s hope it heralds many good things for your country!

          I do not like the thought of any social media where continual attendance is required – that can’t be good. And I agree about the gossiping aspect. Take it easy, my friend, just take it easy. A

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