The prize goes to the bold and inventive

Be bold and inventive to succeed in life.

This bold and inventive Colchester swan is likely to survive this winter.

This bold and inventive Colchester swan is likely to survive this winter.

Winter struck with a vengeance in Britain with my town of Colchester buried in snow and freezing temperatures.  It is at this time I think of the wildlife, so I took time out to take food out to the swans in Colchester.

I have a process where any money I find on the ground goes to buying brown wholemeal bread that the supermarkets discount down as far as 10% of the original value at the end of the day.  The bread goes into the fridge waiting for a spare opportunity for me to visit the swans of Colchester Castle Park to feed them.  During this hard winter moment I knew the swans would be challenged in finding food, so I visited them yesterday (Sunday) and today. I also took my camera to take my first photographs of 2013.

Nature is a great teacher, the birds of Castle Park taught me an important lesson about being bold and inventive.  In life those that are unoriginal thinkers and passive tend to be forgotten, enjoying few lucky breaks; used and abused they get the scraps of life.  The champions portion of the feast always goes to the bold and inventive.

Amongst wildlife in the deep of winter the passive and unoriginal die, falling to starvation, cold or the predator.  It can be a shock to witness wildlife be so brutal when it comes to food, territory or mate, but the prize goes to the bold and inventive in those struggles.

I stood on the river bank on Sunday feeding two swans.  It was a feeding frenzy as a hundred ducks descended upon the feast.  Swans are slow, ducks small but fast.  The swans used their size and power to drag ducks by the scruff of their neck from the food.  The swan brutality to the ducks was shocking but the swans were able to get at some of the food on offer as a result.  By their vast numbers and speed the ducks gained half the bread on offer to the swans.  One inventive duck came up to my leg, tugging at my trousers; in this inventive bold way drawing my attention to its existence so that I fed it. This tugging and pecking at my leg continued the whole time I was feeding the animals, putting me in anxiety that my leg would take a bruising if I did not feed the duck, so it won plenty of food to save my leg.

I returned to a different part of the river to feed other swans today.  I cleared the ground of snow on the river bank so swans or ducks could see the grass upon which they could feed.  I had more bread for the swans, and this time had a problem of fifty or more seagulls.  The seagulls are fast and aggressive, so when I threw bread to the swan the unfortunate bird was mobbed by a dozen or more seagulls that stole its food.  Ducks and seagulls use numbers as well as speed to compete for food against swans, who are slow at reacting.  I changed tactics throwing a snowball into the river which all the seagulls chased, giving opportunity for me to get food to the swans.  The swans were aggressive with each other, biting at each other’s necks for the food.

In times of plenty many swans are nervous about taking food from the hand, but these were hungry bold swans, and I was able to get them to take food directly from my hand, so eliminating the problem of the seagulls.  In cold weather it hurts when a swan bites your fingers as it goes for the bread, but I eventually got the hang of it.

I came away with a clear lesson yesterday and today from the wildlife, the prize goes to the bold and inventive.

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24 responses to “The prize goes to the bold and inventive

  1. Swans are so beautiful and graceful. What an incredible experience it must have been to feed them. Thanks for sharing this Alex.

  2. Thanks Alex. Yet another thoughtful essay.

  3. The prize goes to you Alex, you gave me the greatest laugh. I’ve been watching the wild life since 1974, and I’ve seen many of these instances. One day in the Spring, I saw an eagle take a fish out of a seagulls beak in midair. The seagull was all confused and making a great deal of noise, but it was incredibly funny to see.

    Nice of you to think of the poor birds.

    • *Laughs* Thanks for that! I find nature continues to surprise, challenge and educate me each time I go out into it.

      • Actually, one of the funnier parts was when you brushed the snow away from the grass. My grass is under at least two feet of snow and it is hard as rocks, no brushing that away! Only about another six or seven weeks, it might be melting by then! Snowing again today and all the schools in the province have been closed for today.

      • Canada puts the situation in UK in perspective.

  4. We used to feed the ducks and geese but there were two swans that would come by, I learned my lesson when the swans attacked me, I stood guard over my young boys to get them back to the vehicle safely, I have never had such severe bite marks on my body from any other animal.

  5. I hung on to every word, and could easily envision the goings on. Of course, you come out the winner, ultimately. Lovely. More, please.

  6. Bro, May you be blessed for your kindness! Cheers!

  7. Great post, thanks. It’s yet another lesson learned by exploring and engaging with our natural environment. There’s so much to learn and so much to implement. Being bold and inventive can stem directly from environmental experiences that guide decisions toward bettering life, business and even the grand scheme of order.

  8. I went out to feed the birds this weekend too, I took nuts and leftover cake down to the park and left little caches in various places. I saw a green woodpecker swooping overhead and squawking parakeets. It feels good feeding birds.

    • I enjoy the connection that the experience brings with nature when I interact with animals. Having swans taking food from my fingers was something.

      What a great experience to see a green woodpecker and parakeets.

  9. You’re a wonderful person. :)

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