(Hop aboard: The mother swan checks on the six
cygnets tucked beneath her wings)
This doting mother swan has really taken her babies
under her wing. Six tiny cygnets could be seen peeking
from beneath her feathers as she floated on the pond
at the Bicton Park Botanical Gardens in Devon.
The swan, who had been swimming with her brood behind
was forced to play piggyback after the young birds became tired.
Amazed visitors watched as the swan spread her wings to
allow the cygnets aboard, before before tucking them back
protectively to stop them falling off.
She then continued on her way across the pond, occasionally
turning her head around to check on her precious cargo.
Visitor Richard Meston. 32, captured the incredible scene on
camera. He told how he watched one young birds attempt to
climb aboard while swimming.
‘The cygnets had been splashing around in the water, playing
and swimming around their mum,’ he said.
‘They looked like they were starting to get tired and one by
one started to scramble up on their mum’s back.
‘She didn’t mind at all and even gave them a nudge up.
‘After they got settled in, she covered them with her wings
protectively like a cushion and went on her way.
‘She kept looking back at them to make sure they were still
there. It was almost as if she was giving them a quick telling
off to keep them in line.
‘I could imagine them like kids in the back of the car saying
“Are we nearly there yet?” and squabbling.’
The father-of-three, from Bournemouth, Dorset, added:
‘My children absolutely loved them, they were enchanted.
‘I’ve never seen anything like it – it was a very sweet little family.’
‘It was really beautiful and everyone around the pond stopped
what they were doing to watch.