Thursday, January 3

Trumpeter Swans

Each year, there's a group of Trumpeter Swans that winters along a stretch of the Huron River within Nichols Arboretum, in Ann Arbor.  Growing up, this was my always favorite local place to go birding. It has a wide variety of habitats -- hills with conifer stands, open meadows, a small grassland, and of course the river, skirted with hemlocks, willows, and a variety of small fruiting trees -- and enough space to make each visit different.  For the last several years, I've been able to watch and photograph this same group of abiding Trumpeter Swans, and during the winter months, when the skies are steely and the river is black and clear, dotted with rocks that are just high enough to support smooth, wind-sculpted domes of pure white snow, there's no more attractive sight than a trio of huge white swans flying slowly and powerfully up the river, honking softly.  

After last winter's criminal lack of snow, the half foot of virgin powder that greeted me on a cold December morning was a clear sign that the swans had to be visited.  And this time, I'd finally bring along a tripod, in hopes of gathering footage of these once-endangered birds for the collection at Cornell's Macaulay Library.  Not many regions offer such obliging views of this largest and most regal of the world's waterfowl, yet their elegant forms and mannerisms would make for beautiful footage even in a far less conducive situation.  So here's a short video compilation of the morning's work, where my exploration of the new snow was promptly interrupted, as I'd hoped, by the sound of Trumpeters coming in to land along the river.

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