Over 10 years ago a pair of mute swans built a nest of scrapsÂ of vegetation close to the A27 where it crosses the RiverÂ WallingtonÂ at the top left hand corner of FarehamÂ Creek.
The birds carefully guarded their clutch of eggs, takingÂ turns to sit on them. Later a handful of cygnets could be seen,Â attracting the attention of pedestrians passing by.Â The fluffyÂ babies matured and found mates.
Today the swan populationÂ at the top end of the Creek must be approachingÂ 100.Â This flock is going through a period when, having lost theirÂ brown feathers, the birds cruise about learning to socialise.
InÂ time they will find a mate and look for their own territory to startÂ breeding. The pairs may not go far but, like most humans, theyÂ prefer to have a home of their own.Â Unlike many humans todayÂ they mate for life.
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Generally, mute swans do not leave ourÂ shores but stay put on shallow lakes or slow flowing riversÂ feeding on underwater plants, snails and insects. ClearlyÂ Fareham Creek fits the bill; no pun intended.
The Swan Sanctuary in Shepperton has the largest self-contained veterinary'“registered swan hospital in the country.
According toÂ founder, Dorothy Beeson,Â mute swansÂ are the most common species of swan in Britain. Despite their name, theyÂ do have voices which they use to ward off the enemies of theirÂ young.
They are also commonly known as the royal birds as,Â in theory, the Queen has right of ownership of all suchÂ unmarked birds in open water. This royal prerogative means itÂ is an offence to harm them or damage their nests and eggs.
The Queen, who is referred to as the Seigneur of the Swans,Â demonstrates this legal privilege on stretches of the RiverÂ Thames and its tributaries, when, once a year, her swans areÂ counted and marked, usually on their webbed feet.
In the Middle Ages, swans were kept by landowners as poultryÂ to be served up at feasts and special events. The richer youÂ were, the more swans you owned.
In that respect, Fareham'sÂ prosperity must be on the up and up.