On the advice of my good birding friend Ed Lewandowski, I went to Beaudette Park in Pontiac today to see the swans. Last year Judy and I were rewarded with decent looks at Trumpeter Swans and especially rewarded with their trumpets blaring - confirming the identifications. We had to walk thru the snow and beat a trail to the point where all the swans were congregated then and thought we had a decent ID of a Tundra Swan, but the pics were not good.
This year was much better. It even allowed "car birding" which was nice in the frigid temps and even more frigid wind chills. Most of the water at Beaudette was frozen. The only open water was east of the boat launch and the birds were all concentrated near the shore. I was delighted that all three species of swans were there. I was even more delighted that they were so close that identification and a confirming photographic record worked well.
I have been having fun playing with my pics. I have decent photos of the birds sideways and front-on. Both views together really help with positive IDs. For awhile I had to flip back and forth in my bird books to see what characteristics were stressed. It was much easier this year than last! I had captured the salient features.
I also remembered that last year Bruce Bowman had offered a summary table of swan characteristics to the UM Birders listserv. I found the list in my files. It well summarized what I had been trying to do with my "flipping". I think I had been trying to make (and was close to making) the same list in my mind. I found it quite interesting that Bruce often commented "must be near to see this feature" - this is very true. Also to get a decent pic showing the feature!
Anyway, with confidence, I now happy to report I shot all three species this year. I am still not sure about the juvenile. It seems to have a "V" over the bill, but it hung out more with the Tundra Swans, so I am going with familial connections.
My intent here is to post pics on this blog entry with all the salient features to complement Bruce's summary table. I think I have covered most of them with my pics.
FIX - (Many pics to go - pics here are just starters ...) (I now need drop a blog on the Snow Buntings and Lapland Longspurs with which I have been occupied since, then I'll come back)
|Adult and juvenile Tundra Swan|
|"My Three Swans" (unfortunately not three species...) - Tundra Swans|
|Tundra Swan (nicely shows yellow patch near eye)|
|Trumpeter and Mute|
|Tundra and Trumpeter|
Hey, even in winter, birding does not have to be so hard. With good friends and good luck it all comes together. Go car-bird!