It was Saturday and we were busy dealing with the aftermath of the three last remaining cygnets (juveniles) of two local swan families which had been under pressure from Dad to ‘leave home’. We had been to Cwmbran Boating Lake, the pond at Llantarnam and Atlantic Wharf (for us, a very familiar place) in Cardiff when another call came in from someone (Oliver) visiting Llangorse Lake near Brecon. The news he had was serious – it was another angling related problem. He had seen an adult swan which had become seriously handicapped as a result of the three pronged barbed hooks each end of a 6 inch pike lure of which one end had become embedded in the ‘knee’ joint (hock) and the other end in the underside of the web on the left foot.
By this time it was quite late in the afternoon and there was no way we could reach Llangorse Lake before nightfall but we were fortunate one of our helpers, Martin, who lives in Brecon and who happened to be off-duty that day from his job as an ambulance driver, was able to check it out for us. He went to the lake but was unable to find the swan mainly because with the fading light, almost all the swans had retreated onto the water for the night.
As Martin was scheduled to work for the next three days and this was a situation which required urgent attention, it could not wait until his next day off, so it was important we go first thing the following day. When we arrived we found about a dozen swans feeding on a partly submerged parking area where someone had provided a good quantity of grain. We looked at each swan individually and they were all fine, some had the metal BTO rings on but no Darvic identity rings. As we checked each one with binoculars one swan in particular caught our attention – she was swimming/floating very slowly and carefully towards the grain and as she laboriously tried to struggle to stand Peter went behind her and picked her up. The pain that swan must have been suffering has to be almost indescribable.
For us to be able to remove that instrument of torture from the swan’s leg we needed to stabilise her so we carefully strapped her in one of our wraps leaving the leg we needed to work on hanging loose. With the toolbox open, we carefully selected the strongest pair of cutters from amongst our substantial collection, and as gently as possibly cut through the hook just above the barb. With the lure free from the leg we were able to remove the remaining bits embedded in the leg before finally plastering the wounds with an antiseptic. We wish we could say she was grateful to be free of that awful encumbrance although she was certainly glad to be out of the wrap and able to join the other swans and hopefully her mate back on the water.