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Rob Adamson from the town of St. Ives in Cambridgeshire, England, has become known in the area as “the swan man” — and for good reason.
He’s become something of a guardian to the local waterfowl, keeping an eye out for them over the years.
Adamson has worked at a boatyard for a decade, and also lives in a boat on the water, giving him a special appreciation for the flora and fauna he shares a home with.
The 42-year-old has noted one pair of swans in particular who have had a really rough go of things. Over the years he has watched them try — and fail — to hatch and raise their babies.
Whether the eggs were eaten by foxes or swept away by floods, year after year, this particular pair has had little success.
So when floodwaters started rising one evening in May 2021, Adamson’s thoughts turned to the swans and their most recent clutch. Sure enough, when he arrived — in the dark — to check on them, the water was rising dangerously high.
“She is the unluckiest swan; I needed to make sure they survived,” he told the BBC.
So he built a raft and managed to hoist the nest onto it.
“You’re not supposed to interfere, but it had got to the point where they were all going to die,” he said. “I couldn’t go to bed knowing that. I knew I would regret it if I didn’t do anything to save them.
“The dad was watching too, but neither of them attacked me. I think they knew it was their best chance.”
His actions were noted and commended by the boatyard on Facebook.
“It took us all by surprise when the water levels in the lower marina shot up on Saturday night,” the account posted. “A HUGE thank you to Rob who noticed … that the water was lapping around the swans nest at 9pm.
“Then in the dark, Rob managed to fashion a makeshift raft and lift the nest including hissing Swan and 9 eggs onto the raft. If only the Queen knew what great service he was doing for her feathered friends!”
After Adamson’s life-saving efforts, the boatyard told Newsweek that most of the eggs had hatched thanks to the swan man.
A few years back, Adamson also made the news after rescuing an injured cygnet and raising him. The swan (named Sidney) grew very attached to him, and though a release was attempted, the bird was eventually taken back to him because it missed him too much, according to The Times.
“After Sid, I’ve got a special place in my heart for swans and I have been watching this pair fail for the last 10 years,” Adamson explained to the BBC. “I knocked up a fence to keep the foxes out and I just really want them to make it this time.
“This is why I am here, living on the water. I’m in dreamland with all the wildlife. I wouldn’t swap my boat for a £10m house.”
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