Friday, June 25, 2010

the ugly duckling

mute swan
Cygnus olor
Windsor, England
November 5, 2006

I had never seen swans before this trip and was amazed by how big they were. Can they really fly? Those old-fashioned nursery rhyme illustrations of small children riding swans are not much of an exaggeration. Or maybe that was Mother Goose?

Thanks to Janet's comment below, I got a lead for the pic above in my original "can you ID ?" post and, naturally, I looked into it. Apparently, the Duckling hero in this famous Hans Christian Andersen tale is a Cygnus. There seems to be some consensus that Anderson was writing about himself in this story. The best English online translation of Den grimme ├Žlling that I could find is an old public domain version from The Harvard Classics. It's an amazing nature-related story, much better in direct translation than those silly, nonsensical children's folk summaries.

ps 02/25/12 - For a great video of the mute swan courtship, check out dreamfalcon.

2 comments:

Janet said...

You don't have to be in or from GB to i.d. a mute swan from the knobbed bill and the black extending to the eye!

Nature ID said...

You're too quick for me, Janet. I'll admit I was hoping to catch the attention of one particular UK blogger. As usual, I've edited the above.