I know, the Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) is not a rare bird in Europe and there are millions of photographs of them, from the casual snapshot on a Sunday walk to the elaborate picture trying to show the animal in its exclusive beauty. It is identified by its orange to red bill and the characteristic knob above the bill and not to be confused with the two other swan species in (northern) Europe, the Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) and Bewick’s Swan (Cygnus bewickii) who both have yellow bills and are much noisier than the mute swan.
Making good pictures of mute swans take time and patience. One of the rules in wildlife photography says that it is important to be at eye level with your subject. This is particularly beneficial with a bird that everybody seems to know as perspective can make the difference between an average snapshot and a real picture doing justice to the subject.
In the above photo the swan shows a threatening display called “busking” by which it defends its territory. Most times the animal is not very aggressive.
The following picture shows the “busking” pose displayed by two swans, male and female. In this instance it is part of their courting ritual. Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” ballet comes to mind:
And, finally, there is the impression of flying mute swans whose flight is accompanied by a throbbing sound of their wings which can be heard from far away even before you see them:
By the way, did you know that all unmarked mute swans in England are the property of the reigning monarch, i.e. the Queen? Of course this does not apply to Scotland and Ireland.