Swanning around…


This is the pair at JCB in Rochester, whom I spotted in 2015. The thing I love most about these enigmatic birds is their Adam Ant-style white bill stripe.

I’ve had a mail in from reader Natalie Edge-Edwards, who like our very own swan lady Irene Hodges, is very interested in her local birdlife in Rochester and monitors the black swans on the lake by JCB there.

We’ve had visits by black swans at Chasewater a few times over the years, and they’re always wonderful to see, and I’ve also recorded the swans at JCB as you can see from the photo above.

Black swans are infrequent visitors to Chasewater, and the only birds I know to locally dwell at Hanch Hall near Armitage and on the lake in front of the JCB works at Rochester in Staffordshire.

Natalie is interested in information about the Rochester black swans, and any help would be appreciated – and yes, we’d love to see your photos and videos – I’m sure Irene would love them too! Yes please Natalie, if it’s not too much trouble…

Natalie wrote:

Hi Bob,

My name is Natalie Edge-Edwards and I visit JCB lake in Rocester every afternoon to see and feed the various waterfowl and birds, but my absolute favourite of all – the black swans! Originally there was 2 black swans, but last spring another black swan was at the lake – I’m not sure if this newer swan is the product of the 2 older swans, they certainly don’t like her going near them! I understand the 2 original black swans have been there for about 13ish years, maybe a little longer. The female one has a yellow ’01 JCB14′ tag on her left foot and a red plastic tag on her right foot, and the male one doesn’t have a JCB ID tag with a number on like she does, he simply has a red plastic tag on his left foot and a plain metal one on his right foot.

Now this newer one is a lot smaller than the 2 older swans, and she has a yellow ’02 JCB15′ tag on her left foot and a yellow plastic tag on her right foot. Last September ish another young swan joined the lake, who seemed to be everywhere that the younger swan was. We think he was a boy and he simply had a yellow plastic tag on each foot. The last time I saw him was the 14th March (I know the exact date because I have taken thousands of photos and videos of the swans and other waterfowl since I started visiting the lake in February 2017). We think that he had maybe joined the lake in the hope of mating with the younger female swan, but she was not interested at all so maybe he has gone on to pastures new to find a mate!

I am happy to send you some photos and videos I have, the swans greet me every day!


Thanks again Natalie, we’d be interestied in anything you might want to share!

Irene and her husband spend a whole lot of time (and very probably cash, too) feeding the swans and waterfowl at Chasewater, keeping an eye on them in general and monitoring their wellbeing.

It’s worth reading up on Black Swans – they’re native to the Antipodes but there were less than 50 feral birds in the UK in 2004.

Thanks to Natalie, and of course the Swan Lady herself, for doing such wonderful and selfless work out of the kindness of her heart. Cheers, Irene!


The last known black swan visit, taken at 11:02am, Wednesday 17th September 2014. Image very kindly sent in for the Swan Lady by Dawn Hodges-Adcock.

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1 Response to Swanning around…

  1. Smurf44 says:

    Please note that the JCB Lake is at Rocester, Staffs, NOT Rochester, Kent. We visited the JCB lake on 31.10.2020 and were amazed to see a Wood duck, a Ringed Teal, several Silver Bahama Pintails, several white cheeked pintails and a Bufflehead, plus many others we couldn’t identify. Are these birds totally wild or are their wings clipped?

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