Friday, March 11, 2016

The Swans Have Returned

I was out with a friend getting more waterfall pictures, and we stopped on the causeway at Lake Eugenia to see the swans, which have returned on their migration north to the Arctic.  I had forgotten about them the other day when I predicted which new bird species I would see shortly, but the ice in the lake is disappearing fast, and the swans have taken advantage of the open water to land and stay awhile.

You could see the white swans easily, scattered across the water between the Canada Geese and the stumps.  Lake Eugenia is a hydro reservoir where the water level is let down over the winter.  Trees were cut 100 years ago before the lake was flooded, but the stumps are still here.

A closer look begins to give you a picture of individual swans, who were just feeding in the shallow water and resting.

We counted over 30 altogether looking across the lake.  They were perhaps 200 feet away, so I was using my 300 mm. telephoto, and then cropping the pictures to get this close.

We tried looking with our binoculars to see whether they were Tundra Swans or Trumpeter Swans, but we couldn't make out the difference, and we don't have a spotting scope.  This would be a good time to use one!

But once I had the pictures on the computer, I was able to crop a couple of pictures down excessively to identify the species.

By cropping the two swans in the previous picture until I could start seeing the individual pixels (!) I could see the tell-tale yellow spot just below the eye of this Tundra Swan.

But this Trumpeter Swan has the tell-tale reddish streak at the bottom of the beak, as well as the thinner neck and larger head in comparison.  I was surprised, but we think we have a mixed flock of both species here.

     On the other hand, David in the Comments below, suggests that these are all just Tundra Swans.
     He's a much better birder than I am, so I'm happy to accept his judgement.  They are after all the
     more common ones.

And of course there were hundreds of Canada Geese, who never stopped chattering, so it was a noisy few minutes as we stood watching.  Another big event marking the coming of spring.

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24 comments:

  1. What a wonderful sight, to be part of that is so special.

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  2. Swans and geese have been going over our area for more than a week -- heading your way.

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  3. Beautiful. The geese are back in PEI as well.

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  4. Great shots, FG. Just fabulous. I generally wouldn't know one swan from another, or any other bird come to that, but I could tell these weren't like the ones we generally see over here - I think they are Mute swans. Canada geese seem to be ubiquitous.

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  5. I did not know how to tell the difference between the Tundra and Trumpeter....thank you for telling that!

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  6. Good ID on both! I always think the Trumpeters have elegant necks! Another sign of spring! :)

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  7. I do enjoy seeing so many birds all at once. swans are beautiful.

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  8. Oh how lovely! Such beautiful birds.

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  9. Nice to see your swans. Just to add to Mike's comment above: our most common swans are indeed Mute Swans (they're not mute but make a number of grunts and hisses) but we also have two other species that visit in winter - Whooper Swans and Bewick Swans - they breed in the far north (Iceland, Greenland and Siberia) and come here for our mild winters. You remind me that I haven't been to the Fens to see them this winter.

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  10. Good morning, the swans are beautiful. Great series of photos. Happy weekend!

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  11. I just heard they were in Stratford as well, spring is just about here I guess.

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  12. Spring ... possibly just around the corner!
    Enjoyed looking at all your photo's, thank you.

    All the best Jan

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  13. Replies
    1. David, so what do I look for to tell that they're all Tundra Swans?

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  14. Lovely photos . We get lots of Tundra Swans flying over our house all winter as they travel from lake Erie to the conservation areas in the area to feed before they take their spring flight up to the Arctic . I have taken photos years ago of them in the conservation area feeding there were hundreds of them and of them flying over . They are beautiful birds . Thanks for sharing , Have a good weekend !

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  15. We have huge fields of Trumpeter swans out in the Skagit Valley in springtime. There are still a small number, I think, but it's amazing how many of them there are in early spring. Beautiful pictures! :-)

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  16. Hello, Just want to say thank you for linking up and sharing your post. I love the swans! Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

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  17. What fabulous photos! It's amazing to see so many of these majestic birds together. Hugs!

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  18. Neat shots of beautiful swans and so many ~

    Happy Weekend to you ~ ^_^

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  19. Wonderful pictures of the swans. Such beautiful graceful creatures. I've never seen so many in one place.
    When we lived in Scotland there was a pond where a couple of black ones lived.

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  20. Wonderful photos. We have gigantic flocks of both kinds of swans that overwinter here - they fill the farm fields. The government has set up a reserve for them and pays farmers in the reserve to plant winter wheat for the swans and Snow Geese - hopefully keeping them away from the other fields - but it isn't always so. Soon I think they will be flying north also - I hope they stay a bit longer - they are so lovely to see and photograph.

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  21. That's a lot of birds! The swans are always wonderful to see.

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