AMESBURY — It’s not quite the seventh day of Christmas, but residents living along the shores of Lake Gardner have been treated to the sight of a large flock of swans swimming in the water over the past few weeks.
Bruce Georgian, who lives on Unicorn Circle along the lake’s shore, said he noticed seven of them swimming off Lake Gardner Beach last week and immediately thought of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” folk song.
“Seven swans a-swimming,” he said.
While seemingly a sign that Mother Nature is in a festive mood, the presence of swans on Gardner Lake has actually become a more common occurrence over the past few years. Georgian said he has seen swans on Gardner Lake in each of the past three years, and there have been other reported swan sightings on the Parker River, too.
According to Steve Grinley, who runs Bird Watcher’s Supply and Gift in Newburyport, the birds tend to move in during the early winter to stay ahead of the cold and will frequently take up residence on bodies of water where there is ample vegetation to feed on.
“They’re a non-native bird here,” Grinley said. “But they do populate some areas; sometimes we see them wintering around here.”
Georgian said he first spotted the swans on the lake three years ago. This year, the flock has steadily been growing. At first there were only two swans on the lake, then four, and now there are at least eight.
“I don’t know what it means, maybe they found it, maybe there are more swans in the world,” Georgian said. “For all I know, it could all be one family.”
The swans on the lake are all mute swans, which Grinley said is the most commonly seen species in New England. The birds mate for life, and like other swans, they are very large, mostly herbivorous and known to be territorial, particularly in defense of their eggs.