Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tundra swans and other signs of spring...

My parents have lived near the Chequamegon Bay on Lake Superior for several years now and every spring and fall my dad calls to tell me when the swans are there. Sometimes up to several hundred tundra swans will stop in and spend a few days or weeks laying over on the bay during their migration. This year I lucked out. Two days before my kids and I were planning to go up north for Easter my dad called to tell me the swans were there.

So along with everything else, I packed my camera and hoped that I might have happy kids, a little extra time, some good light, and swans on the lake while we were there. I did and here's some of what I saw.

The day we arrived it was sunny and in the 60's with no ice on Chequamegon Bay. The next morning the wind had switched and was from the north. The temperature dropped to around 40 degrees and pushed ice back into the bay. Here an adult and juvenile tundra swan run on the ice as they take flight.

Immature tundra swans are a grayish color and not all white like the adults. This immature swan is taking flight.

A group of tundra swans sit in an opening in the ice.

I put on chest waders and ventured into the lake in order to get these images. At times the wind was moving large rafts of ice right against the legs of my tripod. I'd stand to that side and use my legs to break up the sheets of ice before they could knock the camera over.

The whole experience was a bit surreal. I was wearing waders and standing in an ice bath with ice breaking against my legs and moving past me giving the impression that I was in fact moving and not stationary. The whole time swans were talking amongst themselves, making beautiful sounds that I can't well describe for you here.

The next evening was sunny and much warmer and I went down to the lake for about an hour near sunset. The swans weren't nearly as tolerant as the day before in the ice, but I did capture a few images.

After the swans left I found this snow bunting moving in stops and starts among the cattails in the marsh.

A few Canada geese were standing on the sand flats along the edge of the Bay. I hope your Easter was as good as mine. Jerry