Rob Adamson from St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, has become known in the area as “the swan man” — and for good reason. He’s become something of a guardian to the local waterfowl, keeping an eye out for them over the years.
He’s worked at Jones Boatyard for a decade, and also lives in a boat on the water, giving him a special appreciation for the flora and fauna he shares the water with.
The 42-year-old has noted one pair of swans, in particular, who have had a really rough go of things. Over the years he has watched them try — and fail — to hatch out and raise their babies.
So when floodwaters started rising one recent evening, Adamson’s thoughts turned to the swans and their most recent clutch. Sure enough, when he arrived — in the dark — to check on them, the water was rising dangerously high.
“She is the unluckiest swan; I needed to make sure they survived,” he told BBC.
So he built a raft tethered with a rope so the distance could be adjusted, and managed to hoist the nest onto the flotation device.
“You’re not supposed to interfere, but it had got to the point where they were all going to die,” he acknowledged.
“I couldn’t go to bed knowing that. I knew I would regret it if I didn’t do anything to save them.
“The dad was watching too, but neither of them attacked me. I think they knew it was their best chance.”
His actions were noted and commended by the Jones Boatyard Facebook page.
“It took us all by surprise when the water levels in the lower marina shot up on Saturday night,” the page posted on Monday. “A HUGE thank you to Rob who noticed at that the water was lapping around the swans nest at 9pm.
“Then in the dark, Rob managed to fashion a makeshift raft and lift the nest including hissing Swan and 9 eggs onto the raft. If only the Queen knew what great service he was doing for her feathered friends!”
Since Adamson’s life-saving efforts, the boatyard has told Newsweek that “most not all” of the eggs have hatched, a direct credit to the swan man.
A few years back, Adamson also made the news after rescuing an injured cygnet and raising him. The swan (named Sidney) grew very attached to him, and though release was attempted, the bird was eventually taken back to him because it missed him too much, according to The Times.
“After Sid, I’ve got a special place in my heart for swans and I have been watching this pair fail for the last 10 years,” Adamson explained to BBC.
“I knocked up a fence to keep the foxes out and I just really want them to make it this time.
“This is why I am here, living on the water. I’m in dreamland with all the wildlife. I wouldn’t swap my boat for a £10m house.”