We watched as they chose where to build their home and then lovingly and painstakingly prepared it for the big event.

Dad really tried hard to chase away the ‘other woman’ – but perhaps not hard enough! When mum was ready to settle down, the unpartnered female was still around. She also tried her skills at building, but nothing ever really came of her efforts. She hung around though and was unfazed by repeated defensive ‘attacks’ by both mum and dad.

We were thrilled when mum arose one Friday and bundled down six little babies into the water. Mum and dad had not really chosen well in the location of their nest and the little ones battled to get up and down onto the steep part of the bank where their safety lay. The jealous mistress tried really hard to drown the little ones and dad was not really as stern as he should have been.

We feared for their safety and there were days when we could see they were exhausted by all the swimming and just wanted to get home to snuggle and rest up.

But... somehow the cygnets learned how to negotiate the steep bank and we breathed a sigh of relief when their little legs were stronger and they also learned how to use their beaks to pull themselves up using the weeds and grass along the pathway. They were growing stronger and bigger each day.

People stopped along the river banks and threw snacks into the water for the family and the ‘outsider’, who eventually learned to stay a bit further away from the babies, but was still close enough to get food from passers-by.

We loved watching the family swim up and down, calling to one another and enjoying the water, companionship and fun and games... until two weeks ago.

We came home from work and noticed that although mum and dad were around, the cygnets were nowhere to be seen. We thought perhaps the ‘outsider’ was being used as a nanny, and we waited to see when she would bring the babies back. On Saturday morning, there was still no sign of them... they were, and still are, missing!

All sorts of horrible thoughts flash through our minds. The most obvious being poached!

We just want to know why?

If anyone knows what happened to our ‘babies’, please could they let us know by writing in to the Courier and enlightening us. Thanks so much.

Heather and Greg Chandler Tyne Court Haddington