Thursday, 31 July 2008

Black Swans

..... Cygnus atratus

This Australian bird is common and widely distributed in Tasmania. The captain of the Banda, Antonie Caen, is the first European to have recorded seeing them back in 1636. This was at Bernier Island near Shark Bay in Western Australia.

There was once a subspecies which lived in New Zealand but is was hunted to extinction prior to European settlement. Australian Black Swans were introduced there in the 19th century and has since thrived.

Interestingly, Black Swan escapees have been reported breeding in Britain. They are not considered to have established a self sustaining population and so the are not officially recognised as an introduced species there. I recall seeing one on several occasions on the Cromarty Firth in northern Scotland where it made a futile effort to blend in with the local Mute Swans :-)

I was impressed by the 178 Black Swans I counted near Bridgewater the other day and no doubt there were many others I could not see. However, Moulting Lagoon, north-east of Swansea supports a much larger population.

Moulting Lagoon regularly supports approximately 8000 black swans Cygnus atrata and up to 15,000 have been recorded during dry periods. It is the most important feeding and breeding habitat for swans in Tasmania.

Black Swans - Cygnus atratus - Lake Dulverton

Black Swan - Cygnus atratus - Lake Dulverton

Black Swans- Cygnus atratus - Lake Dulverton

Black Swan - Cygnus atratus - Lake Dulverton

  • Management Plan 2003 - Moulting Lagoon Game Reserve RAMSAR Site. - Depar tment of Tour ism, Ar ts and the Environment


  1. Hi there
    Good to have you back. Those are some beautiful shots of beautiful birds. I love the one with the zingy background (the water I think)...very artistic.

  2. Hi Alan,

    It's great to see you back in action again.

    Love your black swan shots.
    Especially the second one, it is so surreal! That's the word that came to mind immediately!

  3. You're right about them being widely distributed. A pair of them breed on the pond in Gympie which makes for great photo opportunities. I have also seen them down here on the bay.

  4. Very photogenic birds Mosura, common but well worth spending time with. I agree with tsun-thai chai, that second one is a beauty. Over here in the Gippsland Lakes the algal bloom is killing the sea grass they feed on. They're coming out on to the paddocks to feed, and would you believe, the local government department has given out permits to shoot them. :-(

  5. Counting 178 Black Swans is great but 8000 to 15,000 is fantastic! Moulting Lagoon would be a place to visit during a dry season!! Gorgeous photographs, it's difficult not to catch their elegance but wing fluffing in the second photograph is very impressive!

  6. Thanks Jenny, Chai, Mick, Duncan, & Anonymous

    Common birds but always a pleasure to see. Yes I like that 2nd shot too for the way edge of the wings match the pattern of the water ripples.

    ... and yes Duncan, unfortunately I 'can' beleive that.

  7. Hi again Mosura,
    Black swans are seen here in kent, but as you say, have not yet formed a self sustaining population. I think it's only a matter of time though!