Sunday, March 16, 2014

My Three Swans - Beaudette Park, Pontiac, 2014-03-08

This post is mostly about pictures. Judy and I have mostly been housebound this winter and this was the first time we went to Beaudette Park - one of our favorite places in winter. I saw an earlier FB post (thanks so much Mike!!! I sold my 4WD drive Jimmy last year and really missed it this year ...) from a very experienced birder who got stuck in a snow drift there (and really saw nothing of too much interest) and decided to avoid it for the interim. But a more recent FB post mentioned Trumpeter Swans there again (as usual in winter), and the day was milder and some of the snow had melted, so we tried it.

Great day! Not only did we see the Trumpeter Swans, but also a Tundra Swan. A couple of years ago we saw all three there, but this time I shot some better pics. It was a great lesson in swan identification! I admit I was stumped before, but the day allowed seeing the differences quite well. Even in the pics here, I think you can see differences.

OK. Mute Swans you know. The big thing about Trumpeters and Tundras is that (mostly) the Tundra has a yellow spot on lores (like just below the eyes). That makes it easier. And even if not, the Tundra has a rounded (actually fairly flat) border where the white of the head meets the bill. The Trumpeter has a more pointed white going towards the bill. Sibley's guide has good illustrations of this.

Yes, I know it can be more complicated than this, but tonight I did not want to take the time to look up the great ID tip sheet that Bruce Bowman put on the Mich lister's site a couple of years ago. These birds were easy.

"Un-Cloaked" Mute Darth Vader Swan goes after Tundra Swan

Same nasty Mute spent most of its time going after the Trumpeter Swans

I think I'll have a couple of Mute's and a spilled latte on ice ...
Damn! I have been chasing the other swans all around this pond
and I still can't ever get rid of this darn thing that always seems to be below me!
No matter where I go, there it is! 
Trumpeter Swan goes after Tundra
So I figured out the pecking order. Mute swans go after any other swan as well as geese (no geese were present and I know why!). Trumpeters go after Tundras. I hope the Tundra finally made it to the ice hole to grab some veggies!
Tundra Swan napping

Tundra Swan ice dancing

.And to the folks on the Facebook (FB) Hearts in Nature site, I posted the following. Reflecting, it reminded be of some comments by Desmond Morris (author of Naked Ape) from the 60's/70's. (Anyone remember him? Curious, I am interested in knowing ...)

It's a heart, but part heart is under water ...
And just to complete my story, here is a pic of lovely wife Judy.

Judy marks her territory with a footprint while some weird snow Trump bird thing watches ...

Fun day!

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