The undergardener planned a lovely day out for my birthday yesterday, in Dorset. We took a bit longer getting to our favourite fish restaurant in West Bay, Dorset, due to the main road being closed, which meant a long diversion, but made it eventually. West Bay is where the recent TV series Broadchurch was filmed with its spectacular red sandstone cliffs.
My starter was West Bay hand dived scallops on a pea puree -absolutely delicious! Food miles travelled, about 200yds!
My main was Roasted Hake (again, caught locally) with Samphire and 2 huge prawns and a few sauted potatoes. Delicious!
We don’t normally have 3 courses, but decided that birthdays only come once a year! Mine was a lemon posset with shortbread biscuit, strawberry and a mixed chocolate wedge. I decided that I would walk off the extra calories in the afternoon! A truly delicious lunch.
After lunch we made our way to Abbotsbury Swannery. Apparently it is the only place in the world where you can walk through nesting mute swans.
The swans are so used to us humans, that they just ignore us. The nests are just at the side of the path, no telephoto was needed.
There were cygnets everywhere, all at different stages of development. There is an egg here which looks as though someone it trying to break out into the big wide world.
The Fleet lagoon is formed by the natural sandbar called Chesil Beach which is part of the Jurassic Coast. The water here isn’t salt water, even though the sea, or English Channel is just over the sandbar and is open to the sea at the far end. Chesil Beach is considered one of the natural wonders of the world. They say that they have about 400 swans here.
There were lots of other birds with their chicks, Moorhen, Coot and Pheasants, this is a Coot chick, but just look at the size of the feet! They seem to have adult sized feet on a youngsters body!
This swan was obviously so tired, like you are when you have 6 children! She kept opening her eyes each time there was movement under her wing, we managed to catch a glimpse of about 6 cygnets, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to photograph them.
When we walked past later, she was eating one of the egg shells, maybe a cygnet had hatched while we were away.
Sometimes cygnets get separated from their parents, so are put into a holding pen while they grow, usually with a pair of swans that will adopt them into their own brood.
The nearer it got to 4pm, feeding time, more and more swans started gathering on the Fleet Lagoon. Theses swans are all free to go if they wish, they don’t have their wings clipped, but they know that food comes each day at 12 o’clock and 4 pm.
As the minutes ticked by, more and more swans arrived and made more and more noise.
As soon as the swans saw the Swanherd arrive with their food, pandemonium broke out. The food is thrown into the water for the swans to up-end and find it, which is their natural way of feeding.
Some though, decided that they would get more by helping themselves!
We had a wonderful day out, it was good to come to the Swannery again, the swans are so good timing their young for my birthday. A big thank you to the undergardener for arranging a super day out, I came home very weary, but very, very happy!