Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Precious White Elegance and It Is NOT Snow

Years ago, before Hurricane Agnes came ripping through this area, I was told that one could see dozens (maybe more even) of swans on this river of 'mine'.  They came in during the late winter to wait for warmer weather north and ate grasses that grew along the shallow river's edge.  Hurricane Agnes pushed salt water deep into shallows for days and all the grasses died that year.  Sadly, they never made it back.  Then the Dept of Natural Resources, in their infinite wisdom thinking that they can control the planet, spent a few springtimes addeling the eggs and destroying the nests of the few non-indigenous swans (mute swans) that moved in.  So, I have a dearth of swans in my land.  Therefore we went to the Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge on this trip south and managed to see the hundreds of swans gathering before their flight north.  We had missed their departure by days, so felt very blessed that cold weather had held them here.  (Many of the photos are poor because I was determined not to try to get too close and disturb their rest!  Those of you who cannot make this trip with me, and who perhaps will never visit this area in the cold of early spring, will enjoy those blurry photos, I know.  The last photo I made into a painting since the clarity was poor.)  These are tundra swans and they set up housekeeping in the far north of Canada where they nest and lay three to five eggs each year.  Those that are still too young to mate hang out together in various areas in Canada.  They nest on the grassy ground and are subject to all sorts of predators, so they are precious to see.  Our Canadian friends are probably familiar with them, but for us in the mid-Atlantic they are brief exotic visitors that come by without a castle or princess in the background.  Note the yellow patch on the middle swan in the last photo showing his link to the Bewick's swan in Europe.




With so many swans it was not surprising to see that at least one had met his demise.  Perhaps a fox, a strong Eagle, even a coyote that now roams this area.


But to leave you with a better vision:




The graph below was taken from the Cornell University site and shows their migratory paths.


Tundra Swan Range Map



14 comments:

joeh said...

Beautiful bird, I've never seen them in a large flock like that.

Celia said...

Wonderful, Walla Walla is in the flyway to Canada but it's been a long time since I've seen them. You get great visitors.

Red said...

You have a very large flock of swans. When they go through here(Alberta) they are in smaller groups.

The Furry Gnome said...

Amazing large flock of swans! We have them pass through southern Ontario, but not usually in such huge flocks.

Brian Miller said...

wow. what a huge flock of swans...that is awesome...though, yikes on the fox or whatever predator left the mess...

Linda Reeder said...

I see from the mmap that they miss my little corner of the world, but just north of Seattle, in the Skagit Valley, we get Trumpeter Swans, mixing in with thousands of snow geese.

Granny Annie said...

No kidding???!!! What a wonderful sight.

ellen abbott said...

very cool. I have never seen swans in the wild.

barbara judge said...


Swans are majestic for sure. Your photos are interesting in that they show the large population of the migrating birds. -- barbara

Angie said...

How beautiful!

messymimi said...

Every once in a while we get a few swans passing through here, we treasure seeing them!

Snaggle Tooth said...

Wow- what a huge swan party!

We always have swans in the Downtown waters. Years ago there were some black ones too. They disappeared. We get a few nesting pairs around in spring n even have a Swan Festival.

We get alot of different geese n water fowl. Many from the Arctic migration flocks- many I can't ID lick a duck last week.

Hardly any birds stayed around in the deep snow due to nothing to graze on.

Mage said...

I'm certainly taken by these shots. Thanks so much. Just WOW...

Mage said...
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