We’ve been bringing you regular updates from our swans' nest, and we're delighted to report that eight cygnets hatched on the 7th May!
Nigel Sprowell reports: “I have been monitoring our swans' nest since the end of March. It does take time to lay a clutch of eight very large eggs and she does have to leave the nest from time to time and when she does so, the eggs are covered in nesting material, making it difficult to be sure how many there are.
Once all the eggs have been laid, she sits tight to brood them as ideally they all need to hatch at the same time. This, on average, can take up to 34 days. During that time she can appear very lethargic and lonely, as her mate tends to stay away, which can give the impression she has been deserted. He does take turns to brood from time to time allowing her a break but in the main he keeps his distance. Recently this led to a member of the public expressing concern for the health our swan. However, regular monitoring and use of 24 hour surveillance cameras allayed any fears. In fact the male has been seen patrolling the end of the Waits by the main river. It is wonderful that people take so much interest in what is happening on our Island.
I am delighted to say that all 8 eggs hatched on 7th May, in line with the average incubation time. Despite being drenched the very next day, all the cygnets look very well and are now giving lots of enjoyment to the public as the proud mum, and occasionally dad, parade them up and down the river, retiring periodically to the nest for a rest and more photos!
I’m sure we all wish them well”
For the safety of our swans and our visitors, the grassy path will be closed - this will be clearly signed and cordoned off. The banner showing that we are open will remain unfurled, so please check our opening times below right. You can easily view the nest from the Waits.
Did you know? It takes 2-3 weeks to build a mute swan nest, which is a huge mound of material, normally dried grasses and assorted vegetation, sticks and rushes, constructed at the water's edge. The nest is built by the female, while the male supplies the materials. It takes around six weeks’ incubation (sitting on the eggs) before the cygnets (young swans) hatch, and the cygnets stay with their parents for 4 - 5 months.
| © Nigel Sprowell
|| © Les Goodey
© Nigel Sprowell
Holt Island is an oasis of tranquillity in the centre of St Ives town. The Island provides a variety of habitats which attract a wide range of birds, mammals, plants and insects.
Formerly used to grow willow for basket-making, the Island became overgrown when this ended. This changed its appearance and attracted many different types of wildlife. Today the island is home to mammals such as voles, shrews, deer, badgers, bats and foxes. Plants such as yellow flag iris, purple loosestrife and comfrey thrive. Tortoiseshell, red admiral and peacock butterflies can be seen along with dragonflies and damselflies. And a huge variety of birds including kingfishers, warblers, and blackcaps can be seen. For more information about what you could see CLICK HERE.
The Island has a raised boardwalk, which makes the Reserve accessible to prams and wheelchairs, and there is plenty of seating, some with picnic tables. The Holt cabin, complete with bench seating, a nature table, books and children's activity sheets and displays is worth a visit. For more information to plan your visit CLICK HERE.
We have events and activities taking place throughout the season – see the links on our home page for more information.
We have an amazing video on YouTube which tells you all about Holt Island and shows it in its Autumn glory CLICK HERE TO WATCH
For a downloadable information leaflet CLICK HERE.
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