Heath swans: Wallace keeps it in the family

Mrs Newbie died last year – now he's dating their daughter

Thursday, 17th March — By Dan Carrier

march Image 2022-03-17 at 09.02.33

Wallace and his new beau: his daughter [Louisa Green]

THE love story that brought warmth to Heath visitors during the coronavirus pandemic has a new chapter.

Wallace, the rescued swan living on the Highgate Number One Pond, has found a new love – and it happens to be his daughter. In a saga with more tragic twists and uplifting turns than a romance novel, Wallace was the partner of Mrs Newbie – a swan who had for years pined the loss of her first mate following a freak accident saw him fly into a plate-glass window.

Mrs Newbie had spurned the advances of a number of potential suitors but finally found her beau – Wallace – after both had needed a spell at a swan sanctuary.

The pair settled down and moved back to the ponds together, and had a brood of lovable cygnets last year. Their story ended last autumn when Mrs Newbie died, but Wallace is still there and smitten once more.

Swan rescuer Louisa Green told the New Journal of the unlikely new match.

“In a tragic turn of events last October, the lockdown mate of our long-term widow swan, Mrs Newbie, was widowered himself when she died of natural causes,” she said. “Since then, Wallace dutifully raised their four cygnets to adulthood, and in February he began the natural process of chasing them out of the territory. Three cygnets are now safely at the nearest flock with other cygnets from across London who have also been chased away from home, where in the coming years they will find a mate and eventually claim a territory of their own.”

But one of the swans was welcome to stay, said Ms Green.

She explained: “The fourth cygnet however, Wallace took no interest in chasing, and in fact she occasionally joined in with the harassment of her siblings. Since then, the bond between her and her father has only grown stronger, and it appears that Wallace intends to keep this cygnet as his new mate. They are constantly communicating through series of grunts and calls, have been spotted taking an interest in last year’s nest site, and last week they were even seen mating.”

Such domestic set-ups do happen on the water, Ms Green said, adding: “Although a grim thought in the human world, it is not especially uncommon for a male swan to keep behind a daughter if he loses his mate. There are four territories in London alone where this has happened, and remarkably future cygnets do not seem to have any genetic defects or abnormalities.”

She said: “It’s a convenient set-up; Wallace will now not have to leave his territory to seek a new female from a flock to bring back, and being one of a pair will give him protection against the young duo on the Men’s Pond, Reggie and Regina.  Now that she looks here to stay, we have named the young cygnet Willow.

“As swans cannot breed until two or three years old, Willow and Wallace will not have cygnets this year – they can mate and nest build, but no fertile eggs will be produced.”

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