Thursday, March 28, 2013

Swans on Lake Eugenia

I'd heard through the grapevine that swans were to be seen on Lake Eugenia, so I drove over to see.  About 25 or 30 were sitting on the ice or floating gently around, mixed in with Canada geese and some ducks.  Migrating swans are one of the great signs of spring in southern Ontario, gathering in a few places like Long Point by the thousand on their way north.  They rest and feed for a few days, or until the weather is to their liking, and then head on to the arctic where they'll nest.

These are likely tundra swans (formerly known as whistling swans), the most common wild swans in Ontario.  Trumpeter swans have also been reintroduced to Ontario, confusing the issue, and there is now an established breeding population.  The Trumpeter Swan Society has a good website on the different identification features.  Generally, the trumpeters are noticeably larger, but they're still quite rare compared to the tundra swans.

At any one moment, about half of them were ass-over-tea-kettle in the water, feeding on invertebrates and plants on the lake bottom - the main thing they need to do to have energy to continue their migration.  Lake Eugenia is an artificial lake, created in 1914 or so when the hydro plant here was built, and the water is let down somewhat in the winter, so the lake is quite shallow beside the causeway where the swans are gathered.  In any case it was great to see them and know that spring is actually arriving.

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