Saturday, November 25, 2017

Goose Pond Tundra Swans!

"I dream that one day I would be a published writer and people would read my books - if not, I would be living in the mountains in a small hut, near a pond where swans swim, writing a diary for myself."

― Srinidhi.R

When Tundra Swans offer such amazing opportunities to be photographed, it's difficult to know when to stop taking pictures of them. The lighting was superb and temperatures unseasonably warm for late November. Recently, another birder counted over 1,000 Tundra Swans at Goose Pond Sanctuary. Given strong south winds, they were unlikely to have left. Thus, the plan. I guess I could have gone to Pheasant Branch Conservancy, but the American Tree Sparrows and shrike(s) will be there all winter. So, there's plenty of time for more of that!

Tundra Swan Range Map (BNA)

And a little information also from Birds of North America:

"Breeding on arctic wetlands and wintering on estuaries along the East and West coasts, the traditional inland, cross-continent migratory routes of North America's Tundra Swan make it the most likely to be encountered in the field. A long-lived species, this swan forms monogamous pairs. Each year's young remain with their parents until their arrival back on the breeding grounds the following year."

And now back to Goose Pond!

Described by Madison Audubon: "Located one mile south of Arlington and just 30 minutes north of Madison, Goose Pond Sanctuary is a collection of restored and protected landscapes that are a haven for birds, rare plants, insects, and more. Over 250 species of birds have been spotted at this prairie pothole and its surrounding lands, just 30 minutes north of Madison. Visit during migration for a spectacle of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, or come any time of year to enjoy the changing seasons."

Zooming in ...

And via digiscope ...

The swans were swimming, calling, flying, stretching, bathing, rolling, flapping, preening, sleeping, playing, and chasing. It was kind of mesmerizing, actually. I desired to get a nice open wing photograph, but one has to stay focused on a preening swan for a while to catch that particular display. You can nearly predict when they're about to open up and stretch their wings, but they're not easy to frame given the high magnification of my digiscoping setup.

With two rather snoozy immature swans:

An immature swan shows how it's done:

And an adult:

With a few photo-bombers:

The sentinel and the sleepyhead (well, not quite):

In the following image I was hoping to catch the center swan in a wing stretch, but then the one on its left had the same inclination. What a mess! Nevertheless, it's a fun image that shows the coloration of immature birds.

And other photo-bomb ... thanks.


The lone swan:

With over 400 images to sort through and choose from, these are the 20 I liked the most. Naturally, there were other birds like Canada Geese, Snow Geese, and even Greater White-fronted Geese. While enjoying the swans and waterfowl, I also heard flyover Lapland Longspurs, Snow Buntings, and Horned Larks. See the checklist at the bottom for more.

And now the finale!

And ... and ... and ...

Zzzz ...

Goose Pond, Columbia, Wisconsin, US
Nov 24, 2017 12:30 PM - 4:00 PM
20 species

Snow Goose
Greater White-fronted Goose
Cackling Goose
Canada Goose
Tundra Swan
American Black Duck
Northern Pintail
Ring-necked Pheasant
Northern Harrier
Sandhill Crane
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
American Crow
Horned Lark
European Starling
Lapland Longspur
Snow Bunting
American Tree Sparrow

All images © 2017 Mike McDowell

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