Friday, 18 March 2016

Tundra Swans in Perth County

18 March 2016

     It was dark, with a good deal of cloud cover, when I left home to journey to Perth County in search of Tundra Swans Cygnus columbianus. As I passed numerous Mennonite farms en route, lights twinkled in their barns and cow sheds as they tended to their chores. The work day begins early for a farmer. The signs of activity were comforting as I sipped on my coffee, making good time along dark roads, hoping for a swan bonanza.
     About ten or twelve kilometres west of the hamlet of Monkton, I came upon a large contingent of swans. Unfortunately, the light was awful, and the birds were distant. It was great to watch the activity taking place, but conditions for photography were far from ideal.

     In addition to the Tundra Swans many Wild Turkeys Meleagris gollopavo were present, though even more distant than the swans. The males, called toms, were excitedly strutting and displaying, trying to attract the attention of the females. It was a wonderful sight to see them performing in this arena. The following very poor photographs give at least an inkling of the activity taking place.

     The swans were numerous and were joined by others. Perhaps many birds had passed the night on Lake Huron and were returning to the flooded fields to feed. Canada Geese Branta canadensis were not reluctant to join the swans in seeking food.

     White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus, ever vigilant, came to feed also.

     The swans were simply magnificent, pausing here on their way to their breeding grounds on the arctic tundra; their arrival is an event to be anticipated each year as though it were the first time. The excitement never diminishes.

     I just wish that I had better quality images to share with you.
     On the way home, I spotted a Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis feeding on something at the roadside, and I turned my car around to check it out. The bird was feeding on this dead Raccoon Procyon lotor but, nervous and skittish, based on a long history of persecution at the hands of humans, it fled from the carcass as soon as i got within a hundred metres or so. 

     I doubt whether a Red-tailed Hawk would be capable of taking down a Raccoon so this animal was probably road kill. The hawk did not fly far and I suspect that shortly after I left the scene it would have returned to its feast.
     It was a couple of hours well spent observing wildlife. The swans were the stars of the show but the supporting cast was excellent also.


  1. I hope for similar secenes this weekend............

  2. Interesting to see white swans.
    Road kill, there is plenty here too.

  3. A very fruitful early morning outing to snap these pictures. Feel sad for the raccoon. Have a great weekend!

  4. Congratulations meeting with swans! Amazing photos!

  5. Hi David,

    Pretty much Swans and Geese together.
    The deer is also nice to see.
    And the hawk will definitely return to devouring his meal.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  6. Swans are so graceful and I love the shot of the pair in flight. Pity the hawk was nervous but I find the same problem here. I just wish I had the skill that Noushka has. Enjoy your weekend Diane

  7. The best impressions are in your head David, a photograph is 'but' a print of that impression. It was a well spent morning and we enjoy the pictures. Gr Jan W

  8. Despite not so good light conditions you managed some interesting images of a magnificent bird and its gregarious behavior

  9. Lovely sights to observe!
    Those swans are magnificent, too bad the turkeys stayed well in the distance, the males with their tailed fanned must be fabulous to see up close! nevertheless, the photo gives a good idea of their habitat, open areas close to the woods.
    Too bad for the raccoon but I guess they are not endangered!!
    Un fuerte abrazo, amigo!!

  10. Love the tundra swans (I think we saw some of these in Alaska) and the supporting cast as well. Funny to me to see swans and turkeys in the same area; very different from the places where we've spotted each. I'm sure the hawk came back to finish lunch....just a slight interruption for better digestion!

  11. Quite a place. It was nice to watch those magnificent birds. Stunning pictures.

  12. Hi David
    I discover Cignus columbianus, beautifull encounter.
    It's sad for the little body ...
    Have a good day David

  13. Wonderful for so many swans together to be able to put the photo David, nice to see.
    Greetings Tinie

  14. It's always great to see swans especially in such large numbers.

  15. Hi David. Your pictures could well be transposed into a scne from Pilling. Just substitute the word "Whooper" for "Tundra" and "Pink-footed" for Canada and the scenes are almost identical. Oh yes, the still flooded fields and the grey light too.

    We don't have the Turkeys though.

  16. Hi David. Wonderful to see you found so many swans together with the turkeys bringing up the rear.
    Regards John

  17. Dearest David,
    That sure was a memorable trip and the images on your retina will remain there forever!
    The swan is such a majestic bird and amazing that they love to live in the tundra during the warmer season. Guess they have not many predators there.
    I noticed there even is a Dublin in Perth County!
    Sending you hugs,
    Mariette from Dublin, Georgia/USA

  18. It's just good to share images with us ... and we do appreciate it.
    I just love that deer too.

    All the best Jan

  19. I find this quality also very beautiful David because it's easy to see what is on the pictures. You did this on the photo and we do not. I really were taught about these swans and also the white turkeys. Well all sorry to see a dead raccoon :-( This could indeed be the work of the buzzard.

    Greetings, Helma