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Swan with a profile

31 Jan 2019

Swan with a profile Image

By Rhonda Dredge

Who am I? Swan L70 has stopped by the water’s edge to ponder this existential question while digging for grub at Australia Wharf.

The swan has quite a presence in the water but if you want to know the truth about her you’ll have to check out her profile on the internet.

That takes time and none of the regulars sitting outside ANZ head office seem to recognise her.

“Usually we see two swans,” says one, looking up from his phone at her picture.

L70 is undeniably beautiful, but she wears a great white collar that makes her stand out among her peers. How has she remained unnoticed? Has she swum in from another time and place?

“I’ve seen a mum and its babies,” says another regular, “But no swan with a number.” She doesn’t like to look too closely at the river in case there’s an animal in pain.

The underside of the grand human vision of Docklands can be unsettling. River watchers usually look across at the opposite bank, their eyes attuned to bridges and buildings.

“The funniest thing I’ve seen are the rich people all cleaning their boats for New Year’s Eve,” said a third regular. “We’re too self-contained to notice a swan.”

With 12 towers along the southern bank as powerful testimony to the dominance of humans here, thoughts are more of pizza and beer at a nearby bar. Here, the water’s edge is not actually visible.

But if you take the time to register your sighting of L70 on MySwan, a research site set up by the University of Melbourne, you will be rewarded.

The site aims to study the migration of the birds and it turns out that L70 is seven years old, single and was first collared on November 20, 2012 at Albert Park Lake.

If you upload pictures of your sighting, you will then join a select group of people who are followers of L70 and you won’t need to visit the riverbank to stay in touch because you’ll get monthly updates and a map that shows where she’s been.

The animal/human divide is a complex one with some people, such as wait staff forced to deal with seagulls, not that interested in bird stories and others preferring to experience the magic of this place in summertime by staying in touch via the internet.

Untagged birds can be seen returning home after a sojourn at sea and enjoying the tonic of the balmy air without being the subject of human intervention.

Further research suggests that L70 likes the complexity of this place.

She’s a bit of a fixture in the finance sector and has quite a profile, having been sighted here on January 10 and back in August with six cygnets.

Hang on! That means the swan with the outlandish neck gear may not really be single after all? Has she been leading on suitors with her MySwan page?

Now that might be a first.

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