If you see Lyn Fonzo, please thank her for all that she has done over the past year in caring for our Young Swan and in trying to rehabilitate him to Niles Pond. Please thank and support Dr. Cahill, too, who generously donated his services.
As you may recall, the rescue cygnet was deposited at Niles Pond about ten months ago. Local residents Lyn Fonzo and Skip Hadden had been watching out for him and feeding him regularly, when he became frozen in the ice last fall. Lyn and Dan Harris rescued the Young Swan, and Lyn cared for him all winter long, feeding him and providing fresh bedding and water daily in a custom-made swan sanctuary.
Several weeks ago the Young Swan was released back to Niles Pond. Lyn has not yet seen him fly, not because of injury, but we think he simply does not know that he is a swan. Many species of birds imprint on the first thing they see upon hatching and when this little guy was found he was without parents.
Mr. Swan gave the Young Swan a tremendous thrashing today, as witnessed by several people, pounding his head against the ground and causing him to bleed. We can’t hold this behavior against Mr. Swan, he is just doing what swans do naturally, and that is to defend their territory, especially from other males.
Lyn volunteered to take the Swan back to her swan sanctuary while a new home is identified. Very unfortunately, it was determined that the Young Swan be placed in the OCEAN. The Young Swan has never swam in, or for that matter even seen, the ocean, and he cannot fly well. The excuse was that Mass Wildlife rules state that if an animal is not visibly injured it has to be returned to the wild. However, our understanding is that Mass Wildlife guidelines do not pertain to non-native species and to pets. The Swan’s caretakers were begging to keep the swan safe and not dump him on the beach, repeating that the swan would be cared for, yet, despite their pleas, he was taken to Niles Beach and released there.
He is currently swimming around and around in circles off of Niles Beach, in the harbor. We hope at some point tomorrow he will come to shore, where he can be recaptured and placed in a safe environment.
We hope he stays close to shore and out of the path of boats.
Throughout the community people took the time to participate in Earth Day cleanups and events. I was only able to cover a small fraction of the events and locations. Let us know how you spent Earth Day weekend. We would love to post your stories on Good Morning Gloucester. Thank you so much!
THE GREAT GLOUCESTER CLEANUP TEAM CAPTAINS
Organized by Ainsley Smith and Nick Illiades from Gloucester’s Clean City Commission, The Great Gloucester Cleanup took place at six locations–St. Peter’s Square, Pavilion Beach, Washington Street, Cripple Cove, Good Harbor Beach, and Horton Street.
The volunteers filled over ONE HUNDRED BAGS OF TRASH!!!!!!!!
THANK YOU TO ALL THE VOLUNTEERS FOR HELPING TO KEEP GLOUCESTER BEAUTIFUL!
After the cleanup, a fabulous cookout was hosted by Jamie at her beautiful shop located right on the inner harbor, One Ocean One Love. Jamie provided the burgers and much of the food; Caffe Sicilia donated cookies; Pigeon Cove Ferments, the sauerkraut; and Ma and Pa’s, the pickles. Additionally Beauport Hotel, Clean Pro Gloucester, and Lone Gull provided breakfast. Please say thank you for supporting The Great Gloucester Cleanup to these local businesses by patronizing their establishments.
Meanwhile, over at Good Harbor Beach, I was watching the Piping Plovers this morning from 8am to about 10:30. With many volunteers expected for the Good Harbor Beach clean up location I thought there would be lots of folks interested in learning more about the PiPl, and yes, there were!
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Teagan Dolan, Gloucester’s awesome new animal control officer, fixing the PiPl roping that came undone last night. Many, many thanks to Teagan for keeping watch over the Piping Plovers!! Please contact Teagan at 978-281-9900 with any issues that arise over pets on the beach and in the dunes.
While there, I also met Gloucester’s new animal control officer Teagan (rhymes with Reagan) Dolan. He’s very interested in helping the PiPl and the dog officer’s stepped-up presence at Good Harbor has had a noticeable impact on the number of dogs off-leash and in the dunes at Good Harbor Beach. Teagan is suggesting to dog walkers alternative locations such as Plum Cove Beach and Cressies Beach. I showed him where the roping that cordoned off the nesting area broke overnight and he got out his trusty pocket knife and fixed it on the spot!
Then onto Eastern Point, with the great wildlife news of the weekend is that my friends Lyn and Dan released the Young Swan back to Niles Pond! You may recall that the Young Swan became frozen in the ice in early winter. Lyn has been kindly taking care of the immature swan all winter, housing him in a chicken coop remodeled (by carpenter Joel Munroe) just for a swan, replete with a heated pool.
Lyn and Dan gently and humanely covered the swan with a blanket while carrying him to the water’s edge. Upon release, he immediately headed into a reeded area and then down to Skip’s dock where he took the longest swan bath imaginable, dip-diving and splashing for twenty minutes. When last I saw him, he was perusing the pond’s edge, becoming refamiliarized with his home territory.
HAPPY EARTH DAY FRIENDS!
Thanks to Lyn Fonzo, Dan Harris, Skip Munroe, Skip Hadden, Duncan, Stephanie, Lillian, a bunch more Eastern Point residents, Steve Monell and a pair of “angel” swans, our Mr. Swan has flown off the ice at Niles Pond. As Lyn shared earlier, two Mute Swans flew to Niles Pond, precisely to the same spot where Mr. Swan was resting. They must have been very tired because the mysterious swans immediately closed their eyes and took a nap while Mr. Swan watched over the pair. He eventually dozed off, too. After a long rest, all three departed the Pond, circling around and then heading over Brace Cove towards Rockport. Mr. Swan had some difficulty but perhaps encouraged by the presence of companions, he successfully took off.
Without Dan and Lyn’s overnight vigilance against a coyote attack, our daybreak watch, and the angel swans I think it unlikely Mr. Swan would have survived this latest escapade. Our most heartfelt thanks to all who are keeping good watch over Mr. Swan and friends.
Mr. Swan is the tiny lump on the ice toward the left. We don’t want to see you at Niles Mr. Swan until the Pond thaws!
When temperatures plummeted in December, Mr. Swan moved to one of his favorite winter territories, Rockport Harbor and the adjacent coastline, where the salt water rarely freezes. My theory is that the January thaw we experienced over the past several days drew him to freshwater Niles Pond and I imagine, he expected to find a thawed pond. This is only a theory, but in trying to think like a swan and understand why he would be so uncharacteristically foolish, it is my best assumption.
Maneuvering on ice can be extremely difficult. In order to take off for flight, swans run a short distance on top of the water. Trying to gain the traction needed on ice may be nearly impossible.
After spending a good part of the day in the center of the pond, I coaxed him over to the edge where there was a patch of open water. He ate a little bit of corn, although not nearly as much as usual. He appeared to enjoy the freshwater but then at dusk, he half flew-half ran back to the center of the pond.
Extremely concerned about coyotes, Mr. Swan’s caretakers Lyn and Dan checked on him throughout the night. I took the dawn shift and found him alert and preening. He made several attempts to walk, but then would plop down and tuck his head under his wing to sleep and to keep warm. Eastern Point residents Duncan and Stephanie, and ice boat sailor Steven, offered to help while Lyn, Skip Munroe, Lois, and I conferred on the phone. We decided the best plan of action would be to capture him and return him to Rockport Harbor. At 9am Skip and Dan determined that the ice was okay to walk upon. They fearlessly walked onto the pond and at one point Lyn followed with blankets. After first attempting to capture him, they then herded him over near Skip Hadden’s dock. Skip, Skip, and Dan again tried to capture him. He’s a very smart swan, wily and wild, and after several unsuccessful attempts, we decided to not tire him out and try to feed him, and help him as much as he would allow, from Lyn’s little beach.
Mr. Swan at sunrise and trying to negotiate the ice.
Shortly after, and unbelievably, A PAIR OF TRAVELING SWANS flew into Niles, near Lyn’s beach, next to Mr. Swan. At the moment, while writing this post, all three are sleeping peaceably together in a little group!
Newly Arrived Swans!
The Niles Pond Young Swan, rescued by Lyn Fonzo and Dan Harris on Friday, was taken to SeaPort Veterinary Hospital Saturday morning for a wellness checkup and because it is thought she may have contracted round worm at the shelter from where she originated. Dr. Cahill gave her a complete physical, checking on wings, feet, degree of fat on her bones, took an xray, and drew blood for a blood work up. His assistant also plucked a few feathers to send off to a lab to determine the sex of the young Mute Swan. It will take several weeks for the results of the tests, but based on Dr. Cahill’s visual assessment, she appears to be in excellent health!!
Swans can become very defensive when they feel threatened however, the Young Swan has a relatively speaking mild temperament. Lyn and Dan handled her with lots of tender care and caution and no one was bit during during transport and during the exam.
While we were at the vets, Joel Murnroe, one of Mr. Swan’s loyal caregivers and a fine carpenter, was back at Lyn’s home modifying Lyn’s chicken coop, with a larger entryway door and swan-sized rebuilt ramp.
The Young Swan has had an eventful and productive first day in captivity. With much gratitude and thanks to Lyn for taking on the tremendous responsibility of caring for a wild swan for the winter. Our hope is that the Young Swan is a she, and that she will be re-released to Niles Pond this coming spring.
Eastern Point residents Lyn Fonzo and Dan Harris discovered the Young Swan frozen in the ice at Niles Pond early this morning. Dan reached into the water and scooped her up. She seemed relatively tame and did not try to bite Dan as we had imagined would happen. Dan and Lyn carried her to Lyn’s home, where she is currently living in one of Lyn’s chicken coops. Plans are underway to modify the chicken house to make it a bit more swan friendly. Joel Munroe, one of several of Mr. Swan’s caregivers, is also a carpenter and she is planning to help Lyn.
Tremendous shout outs to Lyn Fonzo, Dan Harris, Skip and Joel Munroe, and to Michelle Smith. West Gloucester resident Michelle formerly raised swans and emus on the family farm and she is providing excellent advice on how to care for swans in our New England climate.
Photos and video courtesy of Lyn Fonzo.
New digs for the Young Swan