There's a part of the greenbelt unpaved and closed to wheels except those on a stroller. We live close enough that our frequent walks include this stretch of trail. It's refreshing to leave signs of the city and enter a veritable bird sanctuary by the overflowing river, even though large homes—nearly mansions—overlook the path.
Of course the ducks get noticed first. There are the usual mallards and those crazy wood ducks who surprised us one day by flying down from the trees. I somehow never knew before that some ducks do spend time in trees. Then we see the Canadian geese (do they ever go to Canada?) who manage to show up everywhere in town and out. (I remember a time when I was waist-deep in a lake helping to catch these critters so the Fish and Wildlife guys could band them—another story for another blog.) But it's hard to miss the great big white monstrosity with the long neck and "charming" personality—especially when the long neck is coming after us.
I remember running. And screaming. Well, maybe not screaming but running and thinking of screaming. I chose flight and Luke chose fight. He stood his ground with an angry swan. Neither won, but we now have a healthy respect for this animal and his territory. I take pictures but try to keep my distance.
We really can't predict how the swan will react, except when it comes to the two miniature horses grazing on the lawn across the pond. Mr. Swan will leave his wife, nest, and children to motorboat his way a great distance, clamber onto land, and chase down any horse who dares to inhabit the wrong space. If, after getting back in the water, the swan notices that the horse has not gone far enough away, the white powerhouse will surge forth again until the four-legged creature is out of sight of two-legger land. Let me clarify: that's feathered two-legger land. Luke and I are bipeds often unwelcome in the bird zone. We have also heard the occasional pedestrian going by, saying to a friend and pointing, "And that's where the swan attacked us."
Lately the swan has been more subdued. We get to see his softer domestic side. After the children had hatched, we got to observe the father near his nest doing what appeared to be some sort of housework. He was moving reeds and twigs in the water from one place to another as if to get more nest material or clear the water so that his children could swim without getting entangled. He let us watch the little ones and seemed to ignore our presence. That's a huge difference from all his previous snarky behavior.