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Photographer's Note

Taken in low evening light recently at Lanark Loch, just on the outskirts of the Scottish town of Lanark, this male Mute Swan has just lifted his head from the water after foraging for food at the bottom of this shallow lake.

The Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) is a species of swan and is one of the heaviest flying birds, with males (known as cobs) averaging about 11–12 kg (24–26 lb) and the slightly smaller females (known as pens) weighing about 8.5–9 kg (19–20 lb).

For many centuries, Mute Swans in Britain were domesticated for food, with individuals being marked by nicks on their webs (feet) or beak to indicate ownership. These marks were registered with the Crown and a Royal Swanherd was appointed. Any birds not so marked became Crown property, hence the swan becoming known as the "Royal Bird". It is quite possible that this domestication saved the swan for being hunted to extinction in Britain.

Once I had downloaded this picture from my camera, I was impressed by the way the light hit this magnificent bird's eye and lit it up - he almost appeared to be staring at me - though, of course, these birds have no good forward vision, their eyes on the sides of their heads being mainly useful for keeping a lookout for predators.

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Additional Photos by John Cannon (tyro) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1268 W: 393 N: 4696] (18902)
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