That’s a question we’ve asked birding friends recently.
There’s been a lot of chatter about rare birds, trumpeter swans, in our area. These birds normally live in western Canada and Alaska. They don’t like the South. In fact, the pair now visiting Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge near Juliette, GA, are believed to be the first ones to ever visit GA.
Our Minnesota friends recently posted photos of a huge flock of swans near them. I was enthralled and obtained permission to use their images in art quilts, thinking I’d not be likely to see any of these birds. Then, we heard there were some swans near us! (More of Mary Ellen’s Minnesota stories are here.) This photo by Bruce Lundstrom.
On Saturday, Jim and I drove to Piedmont and were fortunate to find the pair close to shore at a pond. We quietly approached the group watching, visited with old friends and made a couple of new friends. Then everyone else left and we slowly walked out on the deck and got even closer to the beauties.
We had heard that the two stayed on the far side of another pond, so Jim took his big lens. The birds were so close to us that he couldn’t get the whole bird in a shot. I had carried my camera thinking, “this is a waste, I can’t see them well enough to photograph.” Wrong. I could, I did. Jim went back to the truck (walking ever so slowly and quietly) to get a smaller lens.
I was thrilled to capture a few images, but I was so mesmerized by the glassy surface of the water, by the reflections of the trees and the birds, and by what I saw as parallel behavior of the swans, that I would forget to put down the binoculars and pick up the camera.
Their balancing acts as they preen, stretching that long graceful neck into Mobieus-like positions, that one big black foot in the air, the thrill of them when they unfurl those huge, huge wings – all formed indelible moments in my mind.
Oh, and the earlier encounter with a swan was on Mother’s Day, 2004. Our Welsh Corgi, Dixie, greeted a mute swan at our front door. We lived a couple of blocks from the nearest lake, so our photos of her are not surrounded by reflections or ripples of water. But the visit was memorable.
Next project: stitching some swans!