In a recent BBC documentary about the life of the police who patrol the 400 mile A1 route in the UK, there occurred an incident in which two swans had landed on the road and had caused a three mile tailback by waddling along the centre (sic) of the carriageway. Police were in attendance and were trying to shoo the swans into taking off again, an effort which was unsuccessful …eventually the swans were corralled into a makeshift roadside pen, and some time later were removed by a lady officer of the RSPCA.
I couldn’t help but scoff silently at the efforts of the patrolmen to cajole the birds into taking off again …I had first hand experience of a swan landing on a roadway some three years ago, when a swan landed on a main thoroughfare adjacent to the road on which my business premises are located, and I ushered the bird into my street and onto the pavement (sidewalk) where it obligingly sat itself down while I phoned the RSPCA. Within ten minutes a very capable pair of ladies arrived on the scene and quickly got the swan into a cage in the back of the van, ready for relocation to a more aquatic environment.
One of the officers explained to me at the time that flying swans not infrequently mistake a wet roadway for a stretch of water, and effect a landing which can on occasion cause injury to the bird. She also said that a swan could not take off from dry land again, and always had to be rescued and transported to water (unless of course the bird somehow found its own way to water).
After watching the documentary referred to above I thought I would google “can swans take off from dry land” and was surprised to read, on a couple of sites, posts which claimed that a swan can in fact take off from dry land. Here for example, the writer maintains, in answer to the question “Yes, but they need at least 30 yards to become airborne and the same again to reach a safe height to clear surrounding obstructions such as houses.”
I have to say I am skeptical about these assertions …one would have thought that if such were the case, then at least one person would have captured the occurrence on camera, and posted it on Youtube. As far as I can tell, however, there is no video evidence of swans taking off from dry land, although there are hundreds of videos of them taking off from water.
If anybody can direct me to any evidence to the contrary, I would be much obliged.