Southmere Lake’s residents swans are in for a treat. On October 26th the Eggman will show local people how to make their own swan and duck feed and to take away free samples for the local ducks and swans.
We have all been encouraged from childhood to feed swans with bread and they have been fed this way for hundreds of years. It makes us feel good to connect with these beautiful creatures in this way, and provides the swans (and ducks) with a source of energy during the winter months when other food is scarce. However, we now know that there can be much better options. Bread has little nutritional value to swans – and seeds, peas, sweetcorn lettuce, rice, sultanas and apples are a much better bet.
Last year the Queen’s official swan marker David Barber, entered the debate and his advice was to feed them bread. But experts are really divided on this. As well as providing the birds with little nutrition, it also contributes to problems with the water, as they defecate more than normal and it contributes to contamination by green algae now present in Southmere Lake. The algae is bad for all the creatures living in the lake (not to mentions dogs if they swim in it) and if the spores get into the birds lungs, it will kill them. By clouding the water and by blocking out the sunlight, the algae prevents growth of the very weeds the swans need to feed on come Spring.
Mouldy bread can kill the birds too and this can be present in the stale bread many of us usually offer as feed (I’m sure I have been guilty myself). It makes the actions of the Thamesmead bread fly tipper all the more horrific. Around 500 rotten loaves (not to mention their plastic wraps) were ‘offed into the water one Saturday morning a few weeks ago and had to be cleared up as a matter of urgency.
So please stop by the Egg from 12 noon to 6pm on Saturday October 26th outside the Lakeside Centre, Bazalgette Way, Thamesmead SE2 9AN. See the food being made and take away a sample as well as a recipe sheet to DIY layer.
At the same time, JD Swann the renowned Ornithological Investigator will new launching his fabulous Thamesmead Best Beaks Poster, the result of research carried out with local people over the Summer. Stop by to collect a free signed poster and your swan food recipe card and sample.