The first but only lock we did today was Stonebridge Lock. Stonebridge Lock is fully automatic. Once we got to the lock we moored the boat up and me and dad walked over to the control panel.
We got our lock key and put it in the hole in the control panel and turned it, the panel lit up. I pressed the button which said ‘close downstream gates’.
I then pressed ‘open upstream sluice’ and we waited for the lock to fill. The sluice gates open a little at a time. Once the lock was filled I opened the upstream gates and mum pedaled in. I then shut the gates behind Loon.
Dad was on the other side of the lock holding the rope and chatting to a man.
Once the gates were shut I opened the ‘downstream sluice’. It took about ten minutes for it to empty.
Once it was empty I opened the downstream gates, took the key out and we were off.
The gates and sluices open and close by hydraulic rams.
In the morning we set off to Hackney Wick but we didn’t get that far because the wind was blowing really hard from the south at 17 mph. Mum and Dad could hardly move us along.
Evan helped dad with Stonebridge Lock. It was electric so he got to use all the different buttons. It was made an automatic lock in 2015. The lock was really deep.
We had a walk down to the next lock, on our way we saw two big replicas of Powder Barges, they both had massive masts. Renaissance and Judith are the names of the boats. From 1816 Powder boats were used for carrying gun powder from Waltham Abbey to Woolwich, it was the safest way to carry gun powder.
We are currently moored near Tottenham Lock. There are a pair of swans here with an unusually large family. They have eight cygnets! This seems to be their territory. This morning they came round to the window, all of them, wanting to be fed. It was pretty special. I’d never seen a swan so close. Being such a keen birder, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
You notice a lot about swan behaviour seeing them so close up. Swans seemed to me like good parents because as we threw the bread out of the window, I observed that the adults hung back and let the young ones feed. They didn’t rush in and gobble it all up, though they easily could have done.
Mute swans are a common sight in Britain’s and some of Europe’s lakes, rivers, canals and waterways all year round. Some people go looking for exotic and rare birds and they just take the ones they see everyday for granted. These birds have so much beauty and so many interesting features, if you can only see through their familiarity.
Mute swans are so royal. I always think of them as the kings and queens of the water birds. The way they keep their heads held high and appear so proud. How they glide effortlessly through the water. How a mother keeps her cygnets in a perfect line behind her. The female is always so elegant and the male so majestic.
Now to the real facts about mute swans. Here goes my guide.
Gracie’s Guide To Mute Swans
Mute Swans are pure white, their feathers are large. I often wonder how they manage to stay so clean whilst swimming on such dirty waters. I guess it’s because they preen themselves so regularly.
Their bills are a dark orange with a black basal knob. The male (cob) has a larger one than the female (pen). The young are called cygnets and have a tan/grey downy plumage and a grey beak. They lack the basal knob.
Mute swans are not actually mute, they make hissing noises on defence and honks in their courtship dance. They also make a very distinctive sound when they fly, but surprisingly it doesn’t come out of their beak. It is the beating of their wings. They eat submerged plants and weeds.
Nests on the ground, usually on banks or islands. On average they lay 5-7 eggs. They mate for life so the male sticks around to help rear the young.
- The Latin name for a mute swan is Cygnus Olor.
- It is a myth that swans only sing when they are dying.
- There are lots of different types of swan, including Bewick’s swans (Cygnus Columbianus) and Whooper Swan (Cygnus Cygnus).