The Mute Swan Cygnus olor, is frequently seen cruising the Helford creeks and inlets, powerful and graceful it is not difficult to see how it has earned its royal connections over the centuries. Just as when we see them floating effortlessly by we don’t see the legs peddling frantically under the water, without careful study we cannot understand if they are healthy and successful in their attempts to breed.Swans on Gillan Creek The Helford swans have over the years had a considerable amount of assistance from local people keen to help them in their efforts to nest successfully. In the past nests have been built up annually above the highest of tides at Polwheveral, Gweek, Mawgan and modified at Carne Creek and Port Navas.

A nest platform for the Swans

In some instances, this work has paid off and broods have been raised without losing out to the tide. This year we have had reports that none of the pairs in any of the creeks have been successful, although we have been told that a pair are sitting (rather late) at Gweek. At Carne Creek, the Swans were chased off their eggs, attacked by two out of control dogs, a witness saying that they narrowly escaped with their lives and abandoned the nest after. In Mawgan the resident pair have both recently died after hitting power lines and a new pair are yet to establish. At other sites breeding has been quite sporadic over the years.
Nesting Swan in 2014The Helford Marine Conservation Group would like to hear any of your sightings and anecdotes about Swans on the river to try and piece together as much information as possible, raise awareness of their need to nest undisturbed and encourage volunteers to build up nest sites (out of the nesting season) if considered necessary. You can either contact me This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or sign up to Online Recording for Kernow and Scilly (ORKS) www.orks.org.uk and place your records there. The Mute Swan as a native wild bird has statutory protection, more information on the RSPB website www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/m/muteswan/law.aspx.

Published: July 2017
Author: Sue Scott Helford Marine Conservation Group Coordinator.
Photos by Dr Peter Ealey