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.