Although three species of swans can be found in this country it is the Mute variety with which most of us are familiar. A large white bird with an eight-foot wingspan the Mute swan is the boss of his chosen waterway. If its vocal performance is less than inspired the same cannot be said about the dramatic sounds of its wing beats. Indeed it is said that the booming rhythm of its wings was the inspiration for Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyrie”. An aggressive adult, protecting its young can be an intimidating experience, but generations of children have delighted in supplying them with bits of bread.
Swan Gardens itself, incidentally, is one of a gaggle of modern, water-bird-inspired street names in Plympton between Glen Road and the Ridgeway, off George Lane. Grebe, Tern and Mallard are the others.