Love on the pond leads to the pitter patter of webbed feet
Widow swan finds new love - and now she's got a new family too
01 June, 2020 — By Dan Carrier
And that makes eleven in the family
FIRST, we brought you a romantic tale of true love blossoming among the reeds of a pond on Hampstead Heath.
Now, ten weeks after our exclusive yarn about how the swans named The Widow and Wallace decided to make a go of things together, we can announce the sound of pitter patter of webbed feet can be heard near the water’s edge.
As readers who have been tracking the swans’ romance through the pages of the New Journal will recall, The Widow, who lives on the Highgate Number One pond, had led a lonely life since she lost her first mate in a bizarre flying accident four years ago: her partner had flown into a plate glass window and died from his injuries.
She was left bereft.
And things had got harder for the majestic 12-year-old this Spring – not only had she failed to find another love, a new, boisterous couple recently moved into the Highgate Number Three Pond nearby and, being territorial birds, were rather unpleasant neighbours.
They had taken a dislike to the feathered Miss Havisham-like old bird.
But this story has a happy ending.
The swan, as the New Journal reported back in March, had to be taken to a sanctuary in Shepperton, west London, after she was found stranded on the roof of a house in Millfield Lane.
Heath Rangers suspected her neighbours had caused a ruckus and forced The Widow to flee.
New Journal readers have been following the charming love story for ten weeks
Swan rescue expert Louisa Green, who is also a research scientist at Hampstead’s Royal Free Hospital, had been part of the team who rescued her and after making sure she wasn’t injured, set about bringing her home.
But during weekend spent recovering at The Swan Sanctuary, she formed an attachment to a male, Wallace, recovering from an operation to remove fishing hooks from his throat.
The pair hit it off – and his reaction to her being taken away from Shepperton and back to the Heath was such, the rescuers decided, as he bayed, shrieked and honked his displeasure, they would bring him too.
Louisa Green’s photos of the new family
Ms Green, who with the help of New Journal readers kept a daily watch on how their relationship during lock down, said they have been inseparable ever since.
But the big question was whether they would decide to start a new family?
She said: “After knocking back every potential mate for four years since her love died, something about Wallace must have charmed our widow.”
Last month, Ms Green noticed they had built a nest – and eggs had been laid.
A nervous wait ensued – until Sunday evening, when a bevy of cygnets made their first appearance.
Wallace, who got his name because he was found at Waltham Abbey, has taken his turn watching her eggs while his partner has been feeding ands is now playing the doting father.
Ms Green said: “For the three days before the eggs hatched he stayed right by our widow’s side on the nest, and now that the cygnets are on the water he seems to always hang back a little just to check for any cygnets struggling to keep up. What a perfect pair they are.”
Ms Green believes that father’s paternal instincts suggests he may have had a brood before.
She added: “Wallace is not ringed so we don’t know his history, other than the fact that he was mate-less when he was rescued. We don’t even know his age, but have a feeling that he could be similar to our widow – around 12. I would put a lot of money on the fact that he has been a Dad in the past as he just seems to know exactly what to do.”
The nine new cygnets will live with their parents for the rest of the season – before eventually moving to find a new pond and a mate of their own.
And it has been a good year for the Heath’s families of swans.
Over on Hampstead Number One pond, another pair have a hatched 10 cygnets this spring. All are doing well.