Mamma and Papa swans' eight cygnets hatch on Hampstead Heath

Eight fluffy cygnets hatch on Hampstead Pond No 1

Eight fluffy cygnets hatch on Hampstead Pond No 1 - Credit: Louisa Green

Eight cygnets have hatched at Hampstead No 1 pond, with experts saying they still face a perilous life with predators around including pike, herons and crows, as well as pet dogs.

The fluffy fledglings began appearing early on Friday morning (May 7) after Mamma and Papa swan produced 10 eggs in March and April. 

Louisa Green, a research scientist at Hampstead's Royal Free Hospital and volunteer for the Swan Sanctuary, said: "The wait is finally over – Hampstead's 2022 cygnets have arrived.

Mamma swan guards her cygnets on Hampstead Pond No 1 

Mamma swan guards her cygnets on Hampstead Pond No 1 - Credit: Louisa Green

"This year's first cygnet hatched right on time on a beautiful May morning last Friday.

"By Sunday morning, eight cygnets had made their appearance and Mamma Swan took them onto the water for their first swim."

Louisa said the two remaining unhatched eggs are unlikely to hatch as are both an "off colour, so assumed non-viable".

She said the next month is critical in the cygnets' lives and asked dog owners to keep their pets on a lead in that area of the heath.

Mamma swan with her brood

Mamma swan with her brood - Credit: Louisa Green

"At this very young age, their biggest risk to life comes when Papa Swan begins the ceremonious marching of his new family over to Hampstead No 2 pond, which is usually three or four days after hatching," said Louisa.

"This pond is home to many huge pike, which I have been unfortunate enough to witness eating young cygnets in previous years.

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"On the walk over, opportunistic herons, crows and magpies may also take advantage, sadly. The cygnets will remain vulnerable until about four weeks old."

She added: "It is especially important for dog owners to please, please keep your pet on a lead and under very tight control in this area of the Heath, to avoid unnecessarily frightening this new family on their walks between the ponds.

"Additionally, Mamma and Papa are hyper-vigilant at the moment to any sort of threat, perceived or otherwise, and dad in particular will not hesitate to give a dog a significant whack if he feels his young family are being threatened."

Mamma and Papa with their newborn cygnets on Hampstead Pond No 1

Mamma and Papa with their newborn cygnets on Hampstead Pond No 1 - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

Local resident Coriander Stuttard watched some cygnets being born to Mamma and Papa swan on Friday saying it was "very special".

"It was really quite dramatic to see when they emerged," she said. "It's very special, it's amazing and awe-inspiring to see nature doing its work."