East Sussex WRAS have received a large number of calls over the past month about the cygnets at Decoy Pond, Hampden Park, Eastbourne. As a result WRAS rescuers have been visiting regularly to check on them.
Members of the public have been very concerned and distressed to see the parents being aggressive towards their young and chasing them away.
"This behaviour is normal for most wildlife, once their young are old enough to leave home they will be encouraged to leave by their parents. If they hang around for too long the parents will start pushing them away and getting aggressive. However, at park ponds where birds are fed, young are often reluctant to leave as the food is so plentiful. This then creatures a problem between the cygnets and their parents leading to some amazing displays of aggression" explained Trevor Weeks.
It is illegal to catch most wildlife and relocated them. DEFRA do not see this natural behaviour as a suitable reason for stepping in and don't class it as a rescue situation. So WRAS can only step in once it is justified to do so after the cygnets have been given adequate chance to leave home and their health is becoming detrimentally effected by the situation.
"The dad’s behaviour is becoming excessively aggressive and WRAS are now getting a repeat pattern of the cygnets being trapped in the inlet stream with their dad refusing to let them onto the pond. We believe this has now gone on long enough that the health of the cygnets is starting to suffer. As a result we decided to intervene yesterday" said Chris Riddington.
"We has now removed 3 out of the 4 remaining cygnets. The remaining cygnet seems to be standing up to Dad and giving as good as he gets. However, we will continue to monitor him" added Chris.
The three cygnets are currently at WRAS's Hospital at Whitesmith undergoing a health check and seeking advice from the Swan Sanctuary as to whether they are fit and suitable to be released at Princes Park - a nearby non-territorial flock of swans.
UPDATE: 11th Jan 201812:30pm
After last nights cygnet rescue at Decoy Pond Hampden Park, rescuer Chris went to check on how the remaining cygnet was coping on his own with the parents. Unfortunately the cygnet was struggling against Dad's undivided attention and being pushed up onto the road, so Chris had no choice but to step in. After a check over the cygnet was in better health than the 3 yesterday and as a result has been relocated to Princes Park Eastbourne with the non-territorial flock.
Photos taken by WRAS Volunteers.