One of my last decent paddles for the season was on Friday, October 7th, after enjoying a tranquil, pastel sunrise:
The day before the official start of our Thanksgiving week-end was a prelude to a phenomenal run of summer weather, so at Jim's suggestion, Brenda and I decided to paddle from the west end of the lake back to the cottage before the boat traffic got ugly over the long week-end. Jim dropped us off at McLaren's Creek, literally on the side of Highway 35!
And yes, that's the tip of my red hot kayak:
It was a gorgeous day for a paddle and a bit on the cool side, but the calm waters meant that we could focus our attention on the spectacular autumn scenery rather than navigating rough waves or other boaters. Brenda takes in the view as we paddle through Ken Reid Conservation Area:
In fact this was my first time seeing the conservation area from the water, and I loved being so close to the Osprey nest that had already been vacated by this year's family:
As we silently paddled our way through the maze of marsh vegetation, more magical scenery awaited us at each and every turn:
On the birding front it was remarkably quiet, other than an American Bittern (a year bird for me, hooray!!!) that we inadvertently flushed, and a hunting Northern Harrier that we watched for quite a while from the comfort of our kayaks. There was no sign of the Common Loon family, though, which I could live with because I only had my toy camera with me.
Almost four hours later we arrived back to The Point, and while I was still down on the dock unloading my paddling gear, Brenda returned to tell me of "some swans in the back swamp". So off we went to check them out, and what an incredible family of Trumpeter Swans they were, comprising of two adults, only one of them was tagged as "902"...
...but the cygnet count was staggering at ten!!
This parent should look far more exhausted, given the number of young ones to be cared for!
Here are a few group shots, go ahead, count 'em: two parents with ten cygnets equals TWELVE!!
One of my Sibley guides indicates that the usual number of eggs for swans is three to eight, so the sheer size of this family seemed remarkable. After reporting the sighting to the Wye Marsh Trumpeter Swan Program group, I have since heard back from both Harry Lumsden and Bev Kingdon that this is a record for them!
Asking for more specifics on 902, I learned that this huge family had already been reported at the other end of our lake nine days earlier. 902 is the male and was caught by Bev on January 10, 2007, to be tagged and banded at LaSalle Park in Burlington. Last year 902 and his bride were blessed with two cygnets, a male and a female, and they continue to winter at LaSalle Park with a couple of hundred other Trumpeter Swans. Seeing this many Trumpeter Swans together each winter is one of my favorite birding rituals and I highly recommend the trip to Burlington to anyone who hasn't seen, or rather heard this amazing spectacle before.
Here's the link for more information on the Trumpeter Swan Program at Wye Marsh:
Here are some more photos of the cygnets:
It was amusing to observe their massive bodies wobble back and forth in the water as they stirred up the mucky bottom of the swamp with their webbed feet, then dunk their heads underwater to feed:
This beautiful family spent the entire day in our mucky little swamp, and I returned again around dinner time to see them all settled in on the far side, but in fact they departed just before sunset:
To date, this "902" family has not returned, but last week-end Brenda wrote to report a sighting of two more Trumpeters there, tagged as H80 and H86. I immediately forwarded the data on to Bev, who informed me that by some amazing coincidence, these two swans are last year's male and female cygnets of 902!
Huh, how cool is that??!!