Beware of the cob

SUFFOLK: Protected by the queen and regarded as one of the most graceful of creatures, the majestic swan has long been held in high regard on these shores.

But one troublesome cob is doing its best to wreck the species’ enduring reputation by creating a regime of fear for river-users.

So bad has the swan’s behaviour been that he has been moved from the Essex waterway he had been terrorising to a new more secluded spot - in Suffolk.

Christened the ‘Asbo Swan’ by those he targeted on the River Chelmer in Chelmsford, the cob has been re-homed, along with his mate and six cygnets, at the Gallows Hill Quarry near Needham Market.

The swan would regularly scare members of the public and hit people with his wings, often bruising them, and enjoyed attacking the frightened ducks living on the lake.

And he was the nemesis of members of the Chelmsford Canoe Club.

Club secretary Deborah Wilkes said she was delighted to see the back of the violent creature.

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“It was always the same swan that was causing the trouble,” she said.

“The cob had been aggressive for some time but the attacks started to get progressively worse over the last year.

“Things were getting very nasty and scary with the cob coursing down the river and attempting to capsize our canoeists.

“The last straw was really when it began attacking our junior members, who are all under 18.

“One of our young girls was attacked and knocked from her canoe.”

Mindful that swans are a protected species, club members sought the advice of the Queen’s Swan Master who suggested relocation as a solution to prevent further assaults and enable the swans to lead a more peaceful existence.

The Asbo Swan’s favourite trick was “leaping on the back of boats and capsizing them,” said Mrs Wilkes.

The swan and his family are now said to be doing well after a long search to find a suitable home.

Stuart Anderson, Lafarge senior planning and estates manager said: “Originally the idea was to release them at our park at Whitlingham Country Park in Norwich but it was clear this wasn’t going to be a good idea as Whitlingham is popular with watersports enthusiasts and has many visitors. Eventually we came up with Gallows Hill, which is quite isolated and is some distance away.”

The swans were rounded up by a team of canoeists, directed by a swan specialist from Natural England, who created a barrier across the river while others guided them towards the bank.

Once on land the cob, hissing and flapping, was hooked around the neck, its legs tied and safely stowed into a special carry bag. His mate, the pen, was also quickly secured but the panicked cygnets scarpered in all directions and needed rounding up before being stowed.

Mr Anderson said: “Gallows Hill is pretty secluded and is not open to the public so the swans shouldn’t prove a menace to anyone.”

Have you fallen victim to unruly wildlife? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail