There has been high excitement here in Chalk village recently due to the appearance of a Black Swan on the flooded fields north of Lower Higham Rd. These fields have been very wet for some weeks now and as a result have attracted all kinds of water birds. Hundreds of black-headed gulls, a lesser black-backed gull, herring gulls, teal, wigeon, coots and moorhens are all loafing around what can only be described as ‘lakes’. And now a black swan! Neighbours have been keen to point it out to us.This will be an escapee of course, perhaps from Leeds Castle or somewhere similar. Black swans have been seen at Gravesend promenade in the past and at Northward Hill RSPB reserve.
Apparently sightings of black swans are quite common in the UK. They have similar habitat requirements to mute swans and are often found in the same areas but are native to Australia and are the state bird of Western Australia. They were brought here as ornamental birds like peacocks and golden pheasants.
There have been occasional reports of successful breeding attempts in the UK but they have not become established. They face competition from our native swans so it is unlikely they could become well established. It seems happy enough though, feeding on the submerged grass.