Monday evening September 23, 2013 Trumpeter Swan Family

Monday evening, September 23, 2013 Trumpeter Swan Family

As the wintry clouds cleared away on Monday evening, I just had to check on the TRUMPETER SWAN family who were, until recently, residents of the Mile 15 wetlands. After walking south 1 ½ miles in the ditch along the highway, they were reported to have relocated in a long, narrow wetlands on the west side of the highway.

I drove the long 15 miles, marveling at the beauty of the brilliant white mountains spotlighted by the low sun. I parked at the pullout opposite the Grayling Lake trailhead at Mile 13.5 and walked a short ways south.

At first, I just saw a pair of white adults and one light gray cygnet, busily feeding in the numerous pond lilies. The cygnet looked almost as big as the adults. I wondered if this was THE family, or another swan family. Then I looked farther down the pond and saw three other gray cygnets, almost camouflaged, feeding independently. Yea! The whole swan family was here and doing well.

Like the dipping bird toy, the swans rhythmically tipped down, then up, down, and up, and down, rummaging around in the water lilies and other vegetation. The watchful adults seemed to take turns, discreetly checking on their babies and surroundings before leisurely tipping over again. It was almost hypnotic, watching all six swans feeding according to their individual breathing cycles.

After a time, the regal adults decided to move to the end of the pond. Without a sound, one adult simply bobbed its head a few times, and the whole family gathered together and paddled away. The four cygnets looked very healthy and should soon be ready for the big migration.

Also spotted at the pond, a SCAUP that made little disapproving grunts and paddled off into the pond lilies and an AMERICAN WIGEON that eagerly snapped up tasty morsels floating past the swans.

It has been such a pleasure to watch this majestic family from the mid-May nest building, through incubation, to the hatching and subsequent growth of all four babies throughout the summer. What extraordinary parents!

Later that evening, I watched the moon rise and pose on the top of the dark silhouette of Mt Alice, a large slice cut off its upper right side, already waning. High overhead, the constellation Cygnus the Swan, flew eternally on the Milky Way, its long neck stretching to the southwest.

Throughout the winter, Cygnus will remind me of the Mile 15 Trumpeter Swan family, and I will wish them well, wherever they are.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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