odd swan out

Yesterday, on our way home from Foley Mountain (more notes on that to follow sometime soon), we noticed three swans on the northwest side of Bellamy Lake. We stopped to watch and photograph them as I usually make note of all of our Trumpeter Swan sightings in this region. Each winter, a small group of them usually spends some time in the open water around Narrows Lock at Big Rideau Lake, although we’ve also seen them in the open water by the locks at Opinicon Lake, and in open water around the dam at Westport. This was the first time for us to see them in Bellamy Lake which is a little south of Toledo (Ontario, that is).

The swans are of particular interest as there are ongoing attempts to reintroduce Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator), in eastern Canada. Trumpeter Swans were extirpated from eastern Ontario over 200 years ago. Projects based at Wye Marsh and the Mac Johnson Wildlife Area have had success and there is now a growing population of birds nesting throughout Ontario.

Yesterday’s sighting was interesting on account of the new location, but also the behaviour of the swans. Two swans swam together at quite a distance offshore, while a third swam in shallower water near shore. Just after we stopped to watch, the lone swan began to swim toward the pair. It didn’t look quite right for a Trumpeter as its neck seemed more arched than is normally seen, and its back looked a little odd-shaped. However, the swans were at such a distance that I didn’t give that so much thought at the time. When the lone swan approached the pair, one of them became somewhat hostile and seemed to be attempting to drive it away. It approached a couple of more times before drifting off on its own. I shot several photos, but couldn’t see them that well on the camera LCD. Once home, when I put the shots up on the computer, I could easily see that the “lone swan” was actually a Mute Swan – which is explains why its neck and the shape of its back didn’t seem quite right when it was on the move across the lake. Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) are the introduced European species that are usually seen around parks, but there are now feral populations in many areas of eastern Canada.

I’ve been photographing Trumpeter Swans for awhile now. Some of my photos are in this gallery on my Pbase photo site.

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