I normally keep an eye out for the regular breeding pair of swans we have on the nearby Union Canal, especially in spring when they have their cygnets. This year being furloughed for so long during Lockdown, with a single permitted daily exercise walk the only thing I could do outside the house, I had more of an opportunity to walk that way with the camera, and capture photos of them, from the small, fluffball stage of a couple of weeks old, to now, where they are rapidly growing to a similar size to their mother (Papa Swan is rather larger!), so I thought I would post a sequence of pics of this year’s cygnets to show how they have grown in the last few months.
This is our 2020 cygnets when very small – and supercute! I always love seeing them every year, but this year with the grim reality of Lockdown, the isolation and every threatening stress and depression, the magic and beauty of nature became all the more important, a wonderful escape as I took my once a day allowed exercise walk during the Lockdown (and of course where I go walking, the camera goes too).
My friend who runs the Union Canal Swans Twitter and Instagram is so known to the parent swans they let her feed their babies each year, the short video above is her feeding them some porridge (being Scottish swans they love a bit of porridge!)
Sleeping on the grass by the side of the canal
You can see how much larger they are by this point.
Papa Swan shaking it all out.
Quick close up portrait before they slipped back into the water after resting on the banking.
I love that slap-slap-slap of those big, webbed feet on the wet towpath!!!
I saw the Union Canal swan family on my walk home at the weekend. This year the usual mating couple of adult swans had nine cygnets, back in the early spring, and I have been taking photos of them and watching them over the last few months. Back in mid-May they were just these tiny little balls of adorable fluff:
By June they were growing, the fluff moulting out and their grey feathers starting to appear, as they got larger:
By August they had grown to around the same size as their mum and dad – here they are being hand-fed by the lady who runs the Union Canal Swans twitter feed which reports on them:
And now in September they have learned to fly, with most of the babies having now left the canal and gone off to find their own spot, probably one of the nearby lochs like those on Arthur’s Seat, where large groups of young swans stay until they mature (and the grey feathers go to white), then they find a mate and strike out to find their own spot, like their mum and dad have on the canal near me. I passed them at the weekend, and now there is only one cygnet still with the parents, the left have flown the nest. It’s remarkable to see them go from tiny creatures to these large, elegant birds taking wing in just a few months, a small miracle right here in the middle of the city, but at the same time it is also sad to see them leave.
Last weekend was the annual Raft Race and Canal Festival just a few minutes walk from my flat in Edinburgh. I’ve been going since it started just a few years ago on the regenerated Union Canal where it ends around Lochrin Basin in central Edinburgh (although once upon a time I’m told it went a little further than this, crossing the nearby road, around the back of the old Co-Op building (which is why its back wall is curved) and through where the large modern offices of the financial district are to end nearer the West Port (I always assumed West Port meant ‘west gate’, port derived from French for a doorway), but it seems it meant port as in tying up many commercial barges). It started as just the charity raft race a few years back and obviously my camera and I went along to document it, all sorts of wacky boats and rafts taking part in a charity race. It has now grown into the Canal Festival with rides, acts, stalls and of course the raft race. And with the astonishing heat wave of weather it was pretty packed this year – was nice to go along, last year was the only one I have missed, as I was through to help dad every weekend while we waited on his operation, so I couldn’t go. Huge crowds enjoying the music, dancing, races and stalls, some cooling off by dipping their feet in the water while watching the racing.
Oops – some raft designs didn’t quite cut the mustard and, as they used to say on the Goon Show “”he fallen in da water”. The International Rescue (no, not Thunderbirds, Pete, don’t get all excited, mate) folk were on hand to fish them out with this nifty boat which has a ramp in the bow which hinges down to make it easy to haul people in out of the water:
They also demonstrated how to help someone out who was in difficulty – contrary to the action scenes in movies and TV you are not meant to dive in yourself, you should try using floats or lifebelts on ropes if available to reach them from the banking:
If there is a boat in the water ask them to help guide the person in distress (not that he looks very distressed here!) to the bank as well:
All that kayaking demonstration is thirsty work:
I’ve seen this handsome traditional rowboat with a fabric hull at several canal fests now:
There was music, such as this folk group set up by the old Leamington Lift Bridge:
This band doing some rather good rock and pop covers:
And this French chap doing some cool pop music en Francais:
The model boat club had some nice ships, some on display nearby, some powered and actually racing around in the canal:
Everyone seemed to be having a good time:
Even thought some found it harder going than they envisaged, they kept going:
And the ladies from the local belly dancing class got big cheers for their gyrations:
Recently I spotted a group of pretty talented young local schoolkids from the Gorgie-Dalry-Fountainbridge area working on a long mural by the steps leading down to the Telfer Subway next to the Fountainpark centre. I’d have liked to take pics as they were working on them but sadly these days taking any pic with youngsters in them seems to get you red-lighted as someone more evil than Hitler so I thought I’d avoid any problem and just wait till they finished (shame, would have been nice to document it when it was a work in progress too, but not worth the potential hassle these days). So been waiting for a decent day off when the sun was in the right position as I was passing so I could grab some pics – well done the kids and their art teacher, it’s a lovely, colourful visual treat for the area:
(looking up the stairs from the Telfer Subway towars the Fountainbridge Library)
Love the snail!
And the pretty kitty
And there’s something almost Alasdair Gray about this one
Walking along the Union Canal near the old brewery, some new buildings I’ve seen being constructed over the last year. Wasn’t sure if they were small offices or going to be homes, but I’ve been told they are a modern version of town houses, although it looks like they have completed them just in time for them to lie mostly empty as no-one can get the mortgage to buy them. I walk this way quite a lot and I’ve shot this in colour and not really cared much for the resulting pics, but shooting in black and white (and my B&W shots are shot properly in B&W, not colour then greyscaled afterwards on Photoshop, it makes a difference – any of my Flickr pics you see in B&W were shot in B&W) I was much more satisfied with the result.
(click for the bigger version on the Woolamaloo Flickr)