Tag Archives: Niles Pond

Birds of Cape Ann: The Majestic Mute Swan

Mute Swan taking flight -2 ©Kim Smith 2014The extraordinarily powerful wings and torso of the Mute Swan ~ click to view larger

The above photo is a lucky capture as I was actually filming the Gadwalls behind the swan. When the swan began to lift out of the water I quickly turned my attention toward it. The first two photos are the same; the first is cropped, the second uncropped so that you can see the tremendous scale of the swan’s body and wings in relation to its environment. The Mute Swan is the second heaviest waterfowl, second only to the Trumpeter Swan. In observing swans, I marvel in nature that a creature this heavy can soar majestically through the clouds and swim so gracefully through water.

Mute Swan taking flight ©Kim Smith 2014

Mute swans feed primarily on submerged and emergent aquatic vegetation and a small percentage of their diet also includes frogs, small fish, and insects. Because swans feed in deep water they do not compete with smaller waterfowl such as ducks. It is thought that food is made more readily available to ducks because the swans do not eat all the food they pull up. This seems logical and factual from my own observations at our local ponds and marshes. I very often see a wide range of waterfowl congenially feeding with the Mute Swans.

Swan food winter ©Kim Smith 2014Mute Swan feeding on submerged vegetation at Niles Pond

Note ~ Mute swans, which are a nonnative species, do compete directly for food with North American native Trumpeter Swans, in regions where Trumpeter Swans are indigenous (Trumpeter Swans are not native to Cape Ann).

For more photos, information, and video see previous GMG posts about the Mute Swan:

Where Do Swans Go in Winter?

Vibrant Throbbing Wingbeats

Niles Pond or Brace Cove

*   *   *

Birds of Cape Ann: Divers or Dabblers and the Green-winged Teal

Birds of Cape Ann: Buffleheads


While filming along the berm between Niles Pond and Brace Cove at 11:30 today, my dog Rosie had a near death experience. I was crouched down on a lower rock and Rosie was sitting on the rock above me waiting while I was photographing. Suddenly all the birds took flight. I didn’t think too much of it because that happens seemingly at random sometimes. Rosie was engrossed in watching the birds, too. I stood up and charging toward her, not ten feet away, was a coyote. Upon seeing me as I stood up, the coyote hightailed it down the path towards the scrubby, wooded area between the pond and the sand.

Reflections at Brace Cove and Niles Pond

Brace Cove Haror Seal copy

Our plane was delayed 7 hours en route to Cincinnati for Christmas. Fortunately, we were able to stay in contact with the airline from home. My daughter Liv and I went for a walk along the berm dividing Brace Cove and Niles Pond while waiting to leave. As we were looking at the sun setting over Niles Pond, we by chance turned towards Brace Cove and were captivated by the vibrant colors reflected in the windows of the home on the point. Magically a Harbor Seal swam onto the scene and scootched up on the rock and he too, caught the last of the sun’s fleeting light!

Niles Pond sunsetNiles Pond December Sunset

Where Do Swans Go in Winter?

A reader emailed inquiring as to where do the Niles Pond swans go during the winter months. The Niles Pond swans are Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) and they are neither mute nor migratory. They do not fly south in the true sense of a great migratory distance traveled, but do move around between bodies of water, and may move to a slightly warmer region.

Mute Swans swans grunt, snort, and hiss and their wingbeats make a beautiful throbbing sound when flying. See previous GMG posts about the Niles Pond Mute Swans ~

Vibrant Throbbing Wingbeats

Niles Pond or Brace Cove

Moonbeams Over Niles Pond

Yesterday afternoon I was photographing a friend’s garden, looking west towards the very last shimmer of sunlight as it melted into the horizon. I packed up my gear and while heading home, passed the rising Harvest Moon brightly illuminating Niles Pond. Knowing my family was home hungrily waiting for dinner, I hopped out of the car and snapped away for only a brief moment, wishing I could stay but happy to to get a few photos. At this time of year, every which way you turn brings the reward of unfolding beauty.

Niles Pond Moon Beams ©Kim Smith 2013Full Harvest Moon Over Niles Pond

Crimson-eyed Rose Mallow Growing at Niles Pond

Rose Mallow Marsh Mallow ©Kim Smith 2013

Please Don’t Pick the Wildflowers ~ Thank you!

Hibiscus moscheutos, known by many common names including Swamp Rose Mallow, Swamp Mallow, Eastern Rose Mallow, and my favorite, Crimson-eyed Rose Mallow, is a wonderful perennial garden plant and when found in nature, is a wetland plant that can grow in great drifts. Hummingbirds and bees drink nectar from mallows. The flowers of Hibiscus moscheutos range is shades from pure white to deepest rose, and some have a brilliant magenta eye.

Rose Mallow was planted widely at the beginning of the previous centurey, when an awaresness developed about conserving our North American native wildflowers. You would be hard pressed perusing a home and garden publication from that era and not find a lovely illustration of Crimson-eyed Rose Mallow.

Niles Pond Ducklings

Niles Pond ©Kim Smith 2013

Late afternoon Monday while photographing around Niles Pond, I heard a soft rustling in the reeds nearby. I had been standing very still and was hoping it was the illusive muskrat who seems to be everywhere on the Pond, and nowhere when you have camera at the ready. Not Mr. Muskrat, but instead, Mama Mallard and her ducklings emerged.

Niles Pond ducklings ©Kim Smith 2013

Niles Pond ducklings -2 ©Kim Smith 2013Niles Pond Ducklings

« Older Entries Recent Entries »