The Bure River winds it’s way through the Norfolk countryside, and each stretch of the river hosts at least one pair of swans patrolling the water. When I first arrived for my Norfolk house sit, I saw swans on a daily basis and my favourite pair could be found on the river between the Old Mill and the railway line.
Why Swan’s aren’t on the Menu?
We eat chickens, ducks and geese, but somehow swans manage to keep off our dinner plates, but that wasn’t always the case. Up until the Elizabethan age, swans were regularly eaten by the aristocracy. They were taken off the menu and then all unmarked swans became property of the monarch.
The first documented mention of the royal swan prerogative was in 1186, and by 1482, that status was legally defined by the Act of Swans, and anyone who was caught in possession of a swan could face imprisonment.
No matter how many times I went for a walk with the dogs, I never got tired of an encounter with my favourite pair of swans. They often paddled around near the Old Mill, and this is one part of the river that the bank splits so that you can actually get down to the waters-edge to get up close and personal with them.
They’re huge birds with lots of strength. They may look majestic gliding around in the water – but when they get on dry land, they are imposing and quite frightening. I was able to get quite close because it was before mating season and there were no cygnets around.
They have a huge wingspan, and rumour has it that Swans are strong enough to break your arm. They certainly move pretty quickly and I wouldn’t stand in the way of a swan when he’s on the move.
I’d be really disappointed on the days when the swans had flown or swum to another part of the river, or were hiding out in the bushes and I didn’t get a chance to feed them. But I always made sure to have a few crusts of bread, just in case.