A PAIR of local heros braved the chilly waters of Kellyville lake in Ballyadams and the wrath of a mother swan last week in a bid to save two young cygnets.
John Oxley from Timahoe and Noel Mortimer from Mountrath were out for a walk around the lake last Tuesday when they were approached by two men who told them that there was a cygnet caught up in the reeds. Someone from Portlaoise was on the way out with a canoe but they were going to be another ten or fifteen minutes so John and Noel decided to take action.
“Myself and Noel decided that the cygnet could be dead by the time they arrived because the bird had probably been there for a day or two,” John told the Leinster Express. “We had to get it, so we stripped off and jumped in,” added Noel.
When the men swam out to the stricken bird, the found that another in difficulties. Both entangled in fishing line.
“There were other swans around them including the mother who kept trying to attack us. I kept her away while John freed the birds, one of which had wire around its beak and the other had wire around its leg. We brought them to the shore under our arms. The bird with the wire around its beak had no fight left in it really, probably because it wasn’t able to eat for a few days,” said Noel.
The two men checked the birds for fishing hooks and then released them back onto the lake.
“Apart from a mark the wire had left on one of the birds legs and the other one being slightly weak, they were both alright,” said John.
Local photographer, Robert Redmond was on hand to take a few pictures of the heroes after the rescue.
Although this story has a happy ending, the Laois Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said the incident highlights the dangers posed to wildlife from anglers.
“We do get a number of calls about birds in distress and a lot of the time they have fishing hooks caught in their mouths,” said Dorothy Walker from the LSPCA.
“Anglers are usually good and will help a bird in distress but there is a problem with anglers dumping fishing wire in lakes”.
The LSPCA does not have the equipment or the facilities to look after injured swans, this falls to the ISPCA.