Thank you to Rocky Neck resident Anne Malvaux for sharing her photo of Mr. Swan, spotted last night sitting on the beach at Wonson Cove. When I checked on him at Niles early this morning, he was sleeping peacefully in the middle of the pond.
Tag Archives: Niles Pond
Mr. Swan super stressed and panting while being chased around Henry’s Pond.
Mr. Swan Makes the Big Time in the Boston Globe!
Article by Boston Globe correspondent Emily Sweeney
Photos courtesy Kim Smith
A popular swan at Henry’s Pond in Rockport managed to stay one step ahead of rescuers who were trying to capture him Tuesday.
The elderly bird, known affectionately as “Mr. Swan,” has been a common sight at the pond for many years. During that time, he’s fathered many cygnets and outlived two of his mates, and led a peaceful existence on the water.
But things took a turn recently when Mr. Swan hurt his leg. Although he could still swim, some people began to notice that Mr. Swan was having difficulty walking. And they began to worry.
Soon enough, the Animal Rescue League was called in to help.
“The swan is considered a community pet, so the goal was to capture it, have it treated, and then returned to the pond,” said Michael DeFina, a spokesman for the Animal Rescue League.
While that mission sounds simple, carrying it out proved to be anything but. Catching Mr. Swan turned out to be an impossible task for the organization’s rescue team. Armed with large nets, the two rescuers — Bill Tanguay and Mark Vogel — used kayaks to pursue Mr. Swan on the water. At one point, Vogel almost caught Mr. Swan in his net, but the bird was able to break free.
Mr. Swan eventually sought refuge in the reeds, and the rescuers decided to call off the chase.
“The swan was stressed, and the soaring temperatures made him very tired,” said DeFina. “The fact he eluded capture and was able to swim without showing obvious signs of pain led to the conclusion that the injury may not be that severe.”
“After giving up the chase, ARL and the concerned parties agreed to continually monitor the swan’s condition, and if it worsens, ARL will be contacted to get the swan medical attention, and again, have him returned to the pond,” DeFina said.
Kim Smith, a Gloucester resident who counts herself among one of Mr. Swan’s many fans, described the rescue attempt as a “wild swan chase.”
“He was chased back and forth across the pond,” she said.
What made his escape even more impressive is Mr. Swan’s age. According to Smith, sightings of Mr. Swan date back to the early 1990s, which would make him at least 27 years old. (Smith knows Mr. Swan well: she’s spent the past six years filming him for a documentary film.)
“He’s an amazing creature,” she said.
DeFina said that the average lifespan for a swan in the wild can be about 10 to 15 years due to the hazards they can encounter (getting caught in fishing gear, getting hit by a boat, etc.), while a swan living in a protected environment can live 20 to 30 years.
“It’s clear that there are certainly people in Gloucester who care for this swan, if he’s in fact been around that long,” DeFina said.
Smith said that although the Animal Rescue League’s efforts were well-intentioned, she’s happy that Mr. Swan eluded capture.
“He’s lived this long, he deserves to spend his last days in his own neighborhood with his friends,” she said.
Long live Mr. Swan.
Emily Sweeney can be reached email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter@emilysweeney.
After suffering the extraordinary trauma of yesterday’s attempted capture, Mr. Swan was seen late in the day by friends, peeking his head out between the reeds. I stopped by to see him this morning at about 6:30, thinking perhaps I would catch a glimpse, and to my utter surprise he was sitting on the edge of the road that divides Pebble Beach from Henry’s Pond. Very deliberately, Mr. Swan was heading to the open ocean. He was obviously extremely weary from the effort, and from the previous day’s event, taking only a few difficult steps at a time, before plopping down, then a few steps more. Slowly and determinedly he made his way.
Crossing the road between Henry’s Pond and Pebble Beach
Friends Lois, Serena, and Skip Monroe stopped by to offer food and encouragement. After at least an hour of effort, he made it to the water’s edge and took off toward Niles Pond (it usually takes him about five minutes to cross the road).
Shortly after we got a call from Lyn that Mr. Swan had arrived safely at Niles Pond. I stopped by Niles on my way to work to see him and he appeared so much happier and relaxed than earlier in the morning. A true survivor, he was gliding and preening and vocalizing. Long live Mr. Swan!
In regards to how old is Mr. Swan, I was reminded by another great Friend of Mr. Swan, Skip Hadden, that Mr. Swan is actually at least TWENTY SEVEN years old!! When Skip arrived at Niles Pond in 1992, Mr. Swan was an adult breeding male with a family (swans do not begin to breed until they are at the very least two years old).
Regarding Mr. Swan’s foot injury, Skip writes, “He has injured this foot in the past. He fell off our roof after crash landing there in turbulent winds circa 2000. Heartily agree in daily monitoring as he is one determined character. He has a strong chance of survival if left to his own devices and our small efforts to assist from a distance.”
The day began a little after 6:00am when the Friends of Mr. Swan convened at Henry’s Pond to strategize on how to manage and understand the mysterious notice posted at the pond, which read, “Please don’t feed swan. He is being rescued on Tuesday.” The Friends of Mr. Swan are a group of people who feed and monitor Mr. Swan on a daily basis throughout the year and they include Skip Hadden, Lois, Serena, Skip and Joel Monroe, Lyn Fonzo, Elaine Somers, and myself. The news had spread quickly amongst the group about the scheduled rescue. Mr. Swan’s left foot appears to be sprained or in some way injured at the ankle (possible snapping turtle bite) but we had taken the tactic of allowing the foot to hopefully heal on its own. Wildlife capture can lead to euthanasia and that is truly the last diagnosis any of us would want for Mr. Swan (also known as Buddy, Poppa Swan, Old Blue Eyes, and Papa Swan).
Lois and her Buddy
Mr. Swan is at least 27 years old, has outlived two mates, and fathered many cygnets. With his beautiful blue eyes and pure white cygnet offspring, Mr. Swan is a rare form of Mute Swan (Cygnus immutabilis), thought to originate from the Baltic Sea region. All these many years that he has called Cape Ann home Mr. Swan has brought joy and happiness to countless people, especially to young children. At this point, he is not showing outward signs of physical pain, he is feeding and drinking, and maintaining his feathers (preening). We hope with all our hearts that his foot will heal but believe that if it his time to go, he should be permitted to live out his remaining days in his own neighborhood with his community of friends.
Lyn and her Poppa
The Friends agreed to take turns watching for the ARL workers. Our objective was to speak with them to learn more about the specifics of the capture and how it would impact Mr. Swan’s overall health, what would be the various courses of action based upon veterinary examination, if we could determine the outcome with covering his medical bills, and to insure that Mr. Swan be returned to Cape Ann, if he did have to undergo rehabilitation.
ARL’s Bill and Mark arrived at around noon. We discussed the various options and were assured that as Mr. Swan is a community “pet,” with plenty of friends to look out for him, he would less likely be euthanized.
Coaxing Mr. Swan to the pond’s edge was easy when offered some favorite foods, but getting him to walk onshore was another story. Out came the kayaks, where Mr. Swan led Bill and Mark on a wild swan chase back and forth from one end of the pond to the other. He skillfully led the workers through the thick reeds of phragmites, where he has a secret nest and many avenues of escape. At one point it appeared as though Mark had captured him with the swan-sized net, but he wriggled out and bolted free. We could see Mr. Swan panting and visibly tiring and at that point he slipped deep, deep into the reeds and was not seen again. We all came to the mutual decision that it was best not to continue as Mr. Swan was clearly super stressed and exhausted.
Bill, Mark, and the Friends decided that the logical course of action is to continue to monitor Mr. Swan on a daily basis. If his condition worsens we will at that time call the ARL. In the meantime, we are urging everyone to please follow these simple guidelines in helping Mr. Swan on his road to recovery.
- A healthy diet while healing is critically important. He should only be fed cracked or whole corn. Additionally, chopped lettuce or grass cuttings can be offered along with the corn. PLEASE NO JUNK FOOD, which includes bread, chips, and every other kind of processed food snack.
- Please do not bring your pooch to the shoreline where Mr. Swan is resting. Dogs, especially bird chasing dogs, create a great deal of stress for swans.
- If you see Mr. Swan in any kind of distress please contact any one of the Friends of Mr. Swan or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP!
You can’t miss the Red-winged Blackbirds at the pond and they love cracked and whole corn, too.
We are all aware of his injured leg, and expect that it will heal. If it does not heal, we will have a swan expert have a look at him and take him to Tufts, if needed.
To the well-intentioned person, Mr. Swan will be EUTHANIZED if he is rescued by the wrong group. Whoever is planning Tuesday’s rescue should be aware of the following information, passed on by Jodi Swenson, our region’s local bird rescue expert:
“Because he is non-native, Mr. Swan would have to go to New England Wildlife Center. But, if it is just a limp, or something like that, leave him alone because a hurt leg that won’t get better will make him non-releasable, and that means EUTHANASIA”
Please, please contact email@example.com. THANK YOU.
Mr. Swan, filmed several days ago at Niles Pond. He is staying in the water, probably so as not to bear weight on his leg. He is eating fine and his feathers are well-groomed and in good shape, signs that he does not need to be rescued at this point. Also, in order to fly from Henry’s Pond to Niles Pond, he needs to run on his feet, otherwise he won’t become air born. Mr. Swan is well over twenty years old. If his leg is not curable, he deserves to live out his life in his own neighborhood with his friends.
bike happy then & now: 1885 Gloucester travel guide for cyclists & 2017 stylish new bike fleet at Beauport Hotel
Beauport Hotel guests can explore the city of Gloucester, MA, and Cape Ann…by bike. What a great perk for visitors!
Biking culture linked with tourism in Gloucester and Cape Ann hearkens way back…as in 1878. Scroll down to see historic tourist guides from 1881 and 1885 that catered to cyclists and visitors. The sights and recommendations are the ones we continue to celebrate.
Lookout Hill and Stage Fort Park as seen here from the Beauport Hotel deck is just a close walk or bike ride away.
Enjoy excerpts from an 1885 cyclist tourist guide
In and Around Cape Ann: A Handbook of Gloucester, Mass., and Its Immediate Vicinity. For the Wheelman Tourist and the Summer Visitor by John S. Webber, Jr with eleven illustrations. Gloucester, Mass: Printed at the Cape Ann Advertiser Office, 1885. Library of Congress collection
“…After months of labor–hard labor, too, for one unaccustomed to the work–I am permitted to send forth the present little manual on Gloucester and its immediate vicinity. The material here given is designed for the especial use of the touring wheelman and the summer visitor, and I have endeavored to describe–in a way perhaps peculiar–all the most important sights and places of interest to be found upon this rock-bound territory of Cape Ann…
“The streets about town are generally in condition for bicycle riding, though the surface of most of them is either cut up by thick patches of the coarsest gravel or a layer of loosely lying stones; the rider, however, can pick his way along without any very serious trouble. Main street is paved with square blocks of granite from Porter street to Hancock street, and from Chestnut street to Union Hill. Western avenue, or more frequently spoken of as the “Cut,” is a favorite street for bicycle riding; beyond the bridge take the deserted sidewalk on the left, and enjoy a very pleasant spin upon its easy running surface…
the first suggested itinerary- Bicycle rambles on Eastern Point
“And now let’s take our wheel for a short run along our harbor road to East Gloucester, and note the many points of interest on the way. The start is made at the Gloucester Hotel–the headquarters of all visiting wheelmen in the city–at the corner of Main and Washington streets;
photo: cyclist on the bend passing brick building at Main and Washington now features Tonno Restaurant. Notice the chimneys and same stairs as when it was the Gloucester Hotel. “Special Rates Made to Wheelmen”
“from thence the journey takes us over the rather uneven surface of Main street, going directly toward the east. In a few minutes we pass the Post Office on the left, and soon leave the noisy business portion of the street behind us, then, e’re we are aware of it, we reach and quickly climb the slight eminence known as Union Hill. Once over the hill the road has a downward grade, with generally a very muddy surface, but on through this we propel our machine to the curve in the road at its junction with Eastern avenue. To the right we follow the now well trodden thoroughfare and again pedal quickly up the steep incline before us. Now the machine is well taken in hand, and with a sharp look-out ahead a pleasant little coast over the gently sloping road is cautiously indulged in; down, down we spin, following the main road to the right over the well worn surface, an on, on we glide, past the dwellings of the rich and poor, directly though the business section of the settlement, until in a few minutes we reach the “Square,” so called, at the village center. Passing the pump at this place on our left, we continue the ride over the mud-covered highway, enjoying highly the magnificent stretch of harbor scenery before us. A short distance, and the first dismount is now taken at the foot of a rough incline known as “Patch’s Hill.” At this place are a number of prominent Summer cottages, among them being the Delphine House, Craig Cottage and Brazier Cottage, each affording first-class accommodations, with facilities for bathing, fishing, and boating in close proximity. Once again we bestride the slender wheel and continue on for half a dozen rods or more to the gate-way at the entrance to Niles’ Beach, which marks the terminus of the public way…
Celebrity spotting famous authors
“…Our trip on the bicycle in this direction has finished, and so we sit awhile on the near-at-hand rocky bluff and watch the merry throng of bathers in their sportive antics in the cooling sea, and inwardly wish that we were among them in the refreshing exercise. At our back, as we sit facing the sandy shore, is the little Summer abode of the well known authoress, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps–the cottage in which she has already penned a great number of interesting works, and where she passes the greater portion of the long, warm Summer days.
photo caption: Elizabeth Stuart Phelps house
“Directly in front of us, at the further end of the beach, is the old mansion house of the Niles family, and still further on, at the extreme end of the rocky shore, is the tall stone column of Eastern Point Light. “The walk across the beach and over the narrow winding tree bordered path is well worth taking, and makes a pleasant
Red sky in the morning,
sailor take warning.
Red sky at night,
This old saying has a scientific explanation and you can read about it here on the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory website.
Why is the full moon in April called the Pink Moon? It’s not because it is pinker, but because wild woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata), one of the earliest native plants to flower, comes into bloom in many regions in April (and in May in other areas). April’s full moon is also called the Fish Moon, Egg Moon, and Sprouting Grass Moon. These names were assigned to the moons by native American tribes, which in turn passed them along to the early colonists.
One more from Niles Pond
Sing, sing sing Red-winged Blackbird!
Painted Turtles and a female Red-breasted Merganser were basking on the warm rocks while a flock of Quarky Pants were roosting in the trees. Happy Spring!
The pretty white gull was on the last remnant of ice at Niles Pond yesterday morning, preening and bathing alongside a mixed flock of Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls. Although doing his/her best to blend with the other gulls, he appeared to be playing with a feather blowing around on the ice.
I wonder who amongst our readers has seen an Iceland Gull, and where it was spotted. Please write and let us know. Thank you!
Iceland Gulls are most often only seen in our region during the winter. Despite their name, they do not breed in Iceland, but in the high Arctic and Greenland. Their diet consists of fish, marine vertebrates, carrion, some terrestrial and aquatic plants, and berries during the late summer.
I wished I could have gotten closer to get a better photo, but if you scroll through the following pdf, written by Dick Coombs, you’ll find an excellent description of a 1st-winter immature Iceland Gull, just like the one at Niles, along with photos of a mature Iceland Gull: http://www.southdublinbirds.com/nimages/fyles/IDofIceland&GlaucousGulls-print(DC).pdfNiles Pond foliage readying to burst
Four coyotes on the causeway–thank goodness for the immediacy of cell phones, but oh how I wish my camera gear was not in the back seat!
Under the weather with a two-boxes-of-tissues-a-day head cold, I haven’t been out walking as much as usual. This afternoon I popped over to Niles to take our Rosie out for a very short walk, just in time to see off in the distance a male and female Ring-necked Duck resting at the icy water’s edge, along with freshly opened branches of pussy willows. Spring is surely on her way!
We friends of Mr. Swan think he is practically a genius. You would have to be, to survive the oftentimes inhospitable shores of Cape Ann. And, too, he is well over twenty years old and has out lived two mates!
Mr. Swan at Brace Cove
Mr. Swan is a species of swan called a Mute Swan, which do not migrate great distances. Instead, they move around from body of water to body of water within a region. When Mr. and Mrs. Swan were raising their young, by mid summer, when food was becoming less plentiful and water levels receding at Henry’s Pond, the entire swan family–mom, dad, and all the cygnets–would travel for the remainder of the breeding season to Niles Pond, a larger pond with a more plentiful supply of aquatic vegetation. Several weeks ago, the brackish water of Henry’s Pond thawed. Mr. Swan returned to the Pond, but then with a stretch of cold weather, it quickly refroze. He headed over to Pebble Beach to forage for food in the saltwater cove. This week, sensing the coming nor’easter, Mr. Swan moved over to Rockport Harbor, which rarely freezes, is less rough than Pebble Beach, and where a supply of food is readily available. Whether a September hurricane or March blizzard, Mr. Swan rides out the storm tucked in along the edge of pond or harbor.
Don’t you find it very interesting that although not indigenous to this country, Mute Swans have adapted many strategies for surviving our changing seasons, and with the seasonal changes, the differing types of, and amounts of, food available.
If you see Mr. Swan at any of our local bodies of water, please be very kind to him. Dogs, no matter how well meaning, will make any swan feel threatened. And please, if you must feed him, only feed him whole corn. No junk food ever. Swan junk food includes bread, crackers, chips, and Doritos. In all the years that I have been filming Mr. Swan, never once have I fed him. Mr. Swan has friends, wonderfully kind stewards, who regularly look after his well-being, supplementing his native diet of pond greens and seaweed with cracked corn, and that is quite sufficient for his good health.
Thank you everyone for looking out for Cape Ann’s one and only Mr. Swan!
Beauty abounds even on the foggiest of mornings
The Brace Cove/Niles Pond causeway is weathering the winter very well so far, knock wood.
Everywhere my walk took me this morning, the color blue dominated–cerulean sky and ultramarine sea, wedgwood house trim paint, marine blue-green of every hue, even the turkey encountered had a face in shades of lapis lazuli!Ten Pound Island
Niles Pond Causeway
The newly restored causeway weathered the storm beautifully. By day’s end the waves had settled but this morning at high tide they were still packing some fury. In the next photo, I am standing on the far side of the pond, looking towards Brace Cove. As you can see, the waves were crashing into the causeway.