Email: RoFawr Farm
Join Our Mailing List:

Swan Stories

The most common wild breeding swan in this country is the Mute swan, although they are not as silent as their name suggests. Indeed Mute swans are pretty noisy and snort and hiss whenever they are disturbed and annoyed. In flight, however, they make an exhilarating sight and sound and we can hear them and their throbbing sound quite clearly from the house when they fly from one part of the river to the other. I have read somewhere that their rhythm on the wing inspired Wagner when he was composing 'The Ride of the Valkyrie'.

When my husband and I moved to the beautiful Towy Valley, some twenty five years ago, I was pretty ignorant about swans and their way of life but over the years I have become fascinated by these intelligent and loyal birds. Two years ago I counted sixty two breeding swans on the stretch from the bridge to the house. This, of course, was not always the case.

During our first few years at RoFawr we counted seven dead swans in five years along the track close to the house. We could not understand what was causing their deaths and to see these birds with their long necks lying there on the ground is a very upsetting sight. However, after a while, we discovered that during their flight from one side of the river to the other they would have had to encounter an electricity cable which was hidden to them in the back drop of the hills. This meant that the swans were either being strangled by the cable and / or electrocuted.

We rang the R.S.P.B. for advice and spoke to Roger Lovegrove who suggested that we ring the South Wales Electricity Board. This we did and requested that they put corks on the cables involved. They promised to do this very quickly, but to no avail. The following weekend, while I was out walking with my two children, I found two dead swans on the track. Needless to say I was devastated and went back to the house to get a camera to take shots of the dead birds.

A few years previously I had worked for The Western Mail and I now decided to use some of my contacts for publicity. The friend I contacted agreed to do a pretty scathing article on SWEB and true to his word the article appeared some days later on page three with the heading 'SWEB Blamed For Death Of Mute Swans,'. It was no surprise to us, therefore, to find a representative of SWEB's on our doorstep the next day preparing to cork the cables involved. To be fair to SWEB, over the last few years, the corks have now been replaced by discs which constantly move in the breeze and consequently we have not lost any more swans since in this way.

There is an amusing tail end to this story. When I was elected Chairman of the Llandeilo Committee for funds to be raised towards the National Trust's purchase of Dinefwr Park I met the rest of the Committee on the first meeting and the elected secretary was no other than the head of SWEB in West Wales. He introduced himself to me with the words, 'Are you by any chance THE Mrs. Maclean of the swans fame?'

Swan Story Two
The other amusing tale involved a year or so old signet who sat outside the gates of the house unable to fly. I rang the vet, for help and he asked me if I was coming to Llandeilo that day in the Range Rover could I possibly put the bird in the back. I was aghast at this suggestion as I had never even attempted to catch a swan. However, he assured me that if I cornered it with a sheet all would be well and I have to say it was. When he examined our friend he discovered that the web was infected and he, therefore, had to remove some of it which meant flying would be very difficult. However, the tale ends happily as we knew of a sanctuary in New Quay and they were prepared to take the swan and look after it. We were told later that the bird had made a friend of another swan who somehow had encouraged it to swim in the pond available to them and that they were eventually set free on to the River Teify.

It is by chance that we are lucky enough to live in this lovely house, but that is another story for another time. For now we are just very happy to be living here and that we are able to keep an eye on and pay host to the very many feathered friends who come to pay us a call.

To See & Do > Swan Stories / Wildlife Around RoFawr / Attractions / Bird Watching