BOATING has been banned on a pond in a leafy Scots suburb – after a vicious Geordie swan moved in.
The male bird and its mate, originally from Newcastle, have taken over Craiglockhart Pond, Edinburgh, and are rearing cygnets.
The Geordie swan flies across the pond and attempts to pick off any straggling kayakers.
The bird is becoming so aggressive the local council has decided on safety grounds to ban kayaking sessions on the pond until further notice.
The move has thrown parents’ summer holiday plans into turmoil and cost the council almost £6,000 in lost bookings.
The ornamental pond, which opened in 1878, is in one of the city’s most upmarket districts and has been used for boating – without incident – for decades.
The previous pair of swans both died last year after raising several sets of cygnets over 20 years and happily sharing the water with kayakers.
Kayaking coach Magnus Lyon said the new pair of swans were young and examination of their tags showed they originated 120 miles south in Newcastle.
He said: “There has been a pair of swans on the pond since well before I was there – and I‘ve been doing classes on the pond for about 10 years or so.
“Before we would get along and I would brief the kids and we would leave them alone and they would leave us alone.”
He added: “But the new pair are much more aggressive.
“The male is building confidence in himself and has just become more and more aggressive.”
“Usually he picks out stragglers, anyone who is falling behind in the group.
“I have to bunch the kids up and put myself between them. He was getting bolder and I just thought this is something that should not be continuing.
“At the end of the day we do this for kids to have fun – to pass on a deep rooted fear of water or wildfowl is not something we want to do.”
Magnus said alternative sites for the kayaking classes were being looked into.
Euan Laing, 13, from Edinburgh, was one of scores of youngsters looking forward to taking to the water during his summer holiday.
He said: “I did it last year and it was great fun. The swans were no bother. It’s a shame because I was really looking forward to it. But I guess they have to keep kids safe.”
Colin Seddon, Scottish SPCA Wildlife Centre manager, said: “In this case it appears the birds are either defending a nest site, their young or their breeding territory.
“They will see the kayakers as potential predators and will be trying to keep them away.
“Usually swans will only act in this manner during the breeding season, in which case the best advice would be to steer clear of the area they are defending.”
A spokeswoman for Edinburgh Leisure confirmed: “We have had the same swans in the pond for over 20 years, however recently we received a new breeding pair.
“The male swan is very territorial and is being very protective over his cygnets.
“We have taken the decision to cancel the kayaking holiday camps as our main concern is the risk this could have on our holiday camp participants.
“The swan had been lashing out at our coach who has run these caps for years and he was concerned about the reaction of the swan.
“We have lost £5,168 of income due to this cancellation however we feel the income is irrelevant over the health and safety of our participants.”
Swans are known to be territorial animals and can often go to extreme measures to protect their young.
In April, a swan at Warwick University was accused of racism after students alleged it was targeting ethnic minorities.
The 4ft tall bird reportedly singled out and behaved aggressively towards foreign students as they crossed a footbridge close to its nest.