The river moves slowly, its dark surface broken by the occasional ripples, swirls and eddies created by the unseen current. Trees, in full brilliantly green foliage, stand on its banks shading the water, their leaves trailing and branches creating a tangled trap for any debris floating by. On the near bank stinging nettles and grasses reach as high as my shoulder. Demoiselles and damselflies delicately flit between lily pads on the waters surface and the bank vegetation. The trees are filled with bird song, blackcap, wren and robin to name but a few. Overhead there comes the raucous call of carrion crows as they mob a buzzard that dared cross their path. Higher still and the screams of swifts cuts through the azure blue sky.
Turning a corner and we come across a little family of mute swans. The female is pure white, her black lores and orange bill creating a striking contrast. Surrounding her are five cygnets. They have soft grey down and dark bills, and they are adorable. Nothing ugly duckling about them at all. They are milling around, nibbling at the river weed, ducking their heads under to pick up some submerged food. Lifting them, water droplets drip from their bills and bead on their fluffy feathers, catching the sunlight and glittering like miniature diamonds.
Time stands still for a little while as me and my little Robyn watch the cygnets, or ‘baby swash’ as she calls them. Then the female leads them further down the river, trailing ripples in the water behind them, and we leave them to it. Heading the opposite way to meander our way home again.