I hope to see you at my talk at the Cultural Center at Rocky Neck tonight!
Tag Archives: swans
Several weeks ago, in response to a question sent in by a reader that asked can swans drink seawater, we responded yes, because just above the eyes and under the skin, they have a gland that removes salt from their blood stream and concentrates it in a solution that is excreted from their nostrils. In the photo below, you can see sunlight coming through the nare holes, which are near the base of the bill. When the swan shakes its head, the salt is removed through the nares. Most species of birds have nare holes, which lead to the nasal cavity within the skull, which is part of the respiratory system.
Please join us Thursday night at the Cultural Center at Rocky Neck. For more information on my illustrated talk”Beautiful Birds of Cape Ann” visit this post here.
Today at 9:30am while out doing errands, I stopped by Niles Pond to see if I could find my brand new glove, which was lost the morning previously. That Monday, the day after the weekend storm, the mergansers had moved overnight to Niles Pond to escape the wind and waves on the harbor and I had captured footage of Mr. Swan with the Red-breasted Mergansers. Last I saw him, he was alone and circling the pond, plaintively calling.
Just as I got to the spot where filming yesterday I looked up and flying overhead were not one, but two swans! They were flying towards Brace Cove. I hurried back to my car to get cameras, checking all the while to see if the pair would stay at Niles or continue up the coast. They circled back around Niles before landing on the far side of the pond. The large pure white male looks like Mr. Swan and his girlfriend appears to be much younger as she is comparatively smaller and still has some brownish-gray cygnet feathers.
I immediately called my friend Lyn to let her know about the swan pair swimming at her end of the pond. There was a large patch of ice that prevented the swans from coming closer to where she was calling them from shore but we did have a good long look and we both agree it could very well be Mr. Swan (Lyn calls him Poppa Swan and in Rockport he’s known as Buddy).
The pair of swans stayed, feeding on pond vegetation and moving slowly through the icy waters. Swans use their powerful breast muscles in a lifting and lurching movement to break up ice. It takes a great amount of effort to cut a path through the ice and Mr. Swan is much more adept at ice breaking than is his new girlfriend.
By a swan’s second summer (in other words two years of age) it will have lost all the characteristics of an immature. The brown feathers are gradually replaced with the white feathers. The last thing to visibly change is the color of the swan’s bill. A cygnet’s bill is blue/grey changing over the two year period to pinkish and then orange. Swans can breed as early as two years of age although most don’t begin until three years.
I can’t saw with 100 percent certainty that this is Mr. Swan because I didn’t get a close look at the distinguishing marks on his bill however, all signs point in this direction.
Note the young swan’s brownish feathers and greyish-pink bill (left). This tells us that she is not quite two years of age.
* * *
The Ukeladies are learning Harvest Moon–I’d forgotten about this beautiful song and the fairly recent video, released by Neil Young in 2012, is so very sweet.
It is wonderful to see the swans with their cygnets on Niles Pond again. I really hope these little ones make it, as last year none survived. I love to see swallows swooping, but these two made a pretty pair on the wire. The muskrat was just cruising as normal along the shoreline. You gotta love Niles Pond, there is always something to see.
GMG FOB Sue Ann Pearson from Kettle Cove Studios in Magnolia submits her lovely painting, along with a sweet note to Joey ~
A big thank you to Kim Smith for all of her lovely nature photos. Here is a painting I did of one of her inspiring photos. I call it “Waiting for the Ice to Melt on Niles Pond.”
I am very touched Sue. Thank you for sharing!
I so enjoy GMG each evening, and would like to contribute as I see something of interest. This morning I caught a glimpse of a pair of Swans at the water’s edge on Front Beach in Rockport as I was driving by. I had to stop and enjoy! Luckily my little pocket Canon was with me. I had not noticed swans at salt water before, but then realized, Mill Pond has a stream outlet at this area. With the upcoming storms, I hope they find food and a safe haven.
“Just another two feet Alice and we can eat off the kitchen table!”
To create a double exposure select the Multiple Exposure mode in the shooting menu. Take your first shot, and if acceptable, press ok. The first photo is now visible in both the viewfinder and the LCD monitor, which allows you to easily compose the finished photo. Take the second shot and press ok to exit. If you do not like the second shot, you have the option to retry.
Multiple Exposure mode allows you to change focal length, degree of focus, and aperture between shots. I absolutely adore this feature and can think of a hundred thousand images. Creating double exposures is always possible post production although I prefer the ephemerality of composing in the moment.
Over the past several months I have spent many mornings at Eastern Point trying to film the resident swans in their pre-dawn flight. My hope was to capture 20-30 seconds of swans silhouetted against the red rising sun. For the most part I have been unsuccessful and have only managed a mere snippet or two. The swans eye me warily and then head to the far side of the pond. Yesterday morning I went to my usual observation point to experiment with the Fujifilm X-E1 multiple exposure shooting mode. Perhaps because I was so focused on my exposure experiment and wasn’t paying a lick of attention to them or perhaps because I did not have my tripod with me (I am convinced now more than ever after today that the swans think my tripod is a rifle), but for whatever reason, two decided to groom themselves within arms reach.
Heads Up!! New Kids On The Block
In the pond across from Pebble Beach
What are these things? Geese? Swans? Big assed Ducks? Or what?
As the ice slowly melts, the swans return to Niles Pond to begin their nesting. If the turtles and foxes don’t get the eggs, signets will join the family mid-spring.
Click on photo for Slide_Show and also watch video.
This mom swan was furious that her young baby swam in front of her. Very protective! Is there only one left this year? I’ve seen the red fox and the snapping turtles that are predators of the little swans.
These signets were born last year. I’m still looking for the new babies at Niles Pond. Anyone seen them yet?
Niles Pond on Eastern Point is one of my favorite places to regain sanity.
Click the photo or here for a peaceful early morning slideshow.