Since Saturday we’ve been entranced by the spectacle of large numbers of whooper swans coming and going from the loch at the bottom of our croft. We’re almost certainly the last stop on their long flight to Iceland, where they’ll find a good shallow lake, build up a nest, and breed from April to June. On Saturday morning about a hundred or so turned up, in a perfect V-formation; since then a few have left each day and early each morning another dozen or so fly in from the south. They don’t seem to mind us taking a walk along the lochside to see them, even when the dogs paddle into the shallows to try to understand what they are and why they make such a strange hooting noise.
In Celtic mythology swans are shapeshifters, in stories turning often into women or goddesses – and like other birds, especially ravens, they have a strong association with the Otherworld. Whatever you might think of when you see a swan, there’s little that’s more otherworldly than poking your head out of the door in a misty early morning and hearing the soft, eerie trumpeting of several dozen swans on a long low body of water.