One spring, the Mill Pond in Mine Falls Park was home to a lone male mute swan.
I've been told that there has long been a breeding pair of swans in the oxbow pond near the northeast end of Mine Falls Park, but I hardly ever go there. I once saw a pair of swans, perhaps this same pair, flying along the Mill Pond in winter, but generally, there were no swans in "my" part of the park.
Then one early spring day in 2007, just after the Mill Pond thawed out, a lone swan appeared. It was a young male, perhaps one of the 2006 brood of the oxbow pond family.
As spring advanced, I began to see this swan more and more often. By the end of April, he was there every morning. He roosted in a little cove near the boat ramp, and the water there was always decorated with his feathers. Many mornings, as I was finishing my morning jog, he got nervous at my approach and left his roost for the open water out in the pond. As the dawn came earlier and earlier, he was usually out in the middle of the pond, feeding on aquatic plants, before I started my jog.
Once in a while, on Saturday afternoons, the swan had company. Sometimes one other young swan, sometimes two, would join the "resident" young male on the pond. I assumed they were his broodmates, but I half hoped that this regal bird would find a mate and set up housekeeping on the Mill Pond.
It wasn't to be.
As summer approached, and the park became more and more crowded with people, the swan disappeared. The same thing happened to the beavers the previous year, but that's another story.
I don't know if it was the people - the joggers and bikers, or the people boating and fishing on the pond - that drove the swan away. It might also have been that the luxuriant growth of aquatic plants that blanketed the shallows were simply not to the swan's liking. In any case, he was gone before the middle of June.
A couple of times, I saw a lone swan in the Nashua River above the dam in the early morning. He may have taken residence farther up the river, beyond where I can see him on my jogs and walks along the Mill Pond. He may have gone to some more distant pond or river. He may have returned to the oxbow pond.
Whatever the case, the swan no longer graces the Mill Pond.
Maybe next year.