TUNDRA SWANS at Grand Bend

On Thurdsay morning (Mar 26) I got up early and headed north about two hours to take in the annual gathering of Tundra Swans near Grand Bend. Alf Ryder had posted word that there were 17,000 swans there earlier in the week, so I was hoping many would still be present. I wasn't disappointed! I got there just in time to get about twenty minutes of really nice light before a large cloud bank rolled in. The light picked up again later in the morning, providing some nice dramatic images. Here is a selection of some of my favourites. I was also shooting video, so I will have to go back to do this again next year.

This image shows that dramatic early light.

At times birds were come right overhead at low height. You had to be really fast to grab them though.

The light softened once the clouds arrived but it was bright enough to get some nice shots. I really liked these three shots despite the duller light.

The later morning light provided some dappled moments and this group of swans with reflections were taken then.



Finally the weather was good enough this morning to do some video work. I'm continuing to shoot stock for my upcoming HD "Birds of Point Pelee"(to be released later this year or early 2010). While shooting expected migrants like Red-winged Blackbird and American Robin I was surprised to hear a large flock of Snow Geese heading towards me. I had enough time to grab some quick video clips and a few images. The photo below shows most of the birds. From all my images I estimated the flock at a minimum of 256 individuals - an exceptional flock for the Pelee area and certainly the largest "white" goose flock I had ever seen here.

I clicked off a number of still frames with tighter framing and below you can see a crop of one of those images showing that the flock was composed of both Snow and Ross's Geese. In the image below it appears to me that there are three adult white Ross's (two upper left, and one bottom right) and four adult white Snow Geese (middle). However I have had the benefit of examining the images full frame on my monitor!

The last shot is an enlargement of the bottom right two birds above. The difference is pretty clear between the Snow Goose on the left and the much shorter necked, smaller billed Ross's on the right. Pretty cool!

When I got home I saw Dean Ware had bumped into what was certainly the same flock of birds later in the morning at Hillman Marsh. He was able to verify similar counts on both the Snow and Ross's numbers. Its amazing to think of the status change of these species in just a few decades.