Musings on Anthropomorphism.- (Well, sort of)

I spent much of last week at Quadpaws photographing the dog agility show. Quadpaws takes place at Mapledurham a little way north of Reading – the event is actually situated within the Mapledurham Estate right next to the river Thames. With such a fab location comes an abundance of wildlife, especially birds. In particular I was drawn to the behaviour of a particular swan. Over the week I watched the swan (I presume male) chase away other swans and geese – it simply would not tolerate any other large bird on ‘its’ stretch of the river.

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Now, as a dog lover I guess I’m quick to anthropomorphise all kinds of wildlife. Indeed I had this swan down as ‘territorial’ or ‘just plain grumpy’. Having formed my view I continued to watch the bird’s hissing, flapping, splash and chasing displays with detached amusement.

Towards the end of the week, and following a particularly noisy challenge to an encroaching swan, I decided to take a walk down the river towards the weir and see what the bird was up to. The cause of his aggression quickly became clear – this was no ‘grumpy’ bird but an active parent diligently making sure that nothing came close that might threaten his family. His protective instincts extended to warning off a family of geese, though at least he allowed them some proximity.

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