There were swans in the middle distance; eight big white birds about 300 yards out. To the east, the sun eased above the trees; the white of the birds came alive in the early morning light.
I pulled on white camo, mid-winter clothing in the average year, but this year is hardly average.
I carried my gear out as far as feasible on the shelf of ice that bordered the open water. The swans saw me from the distance and appeared curious. I could hear their low-pitched calls, a quiet honking that reminded me of geese.
I set up on a low chair, draped myself in white sheets of mesh camo, set the camera up and waited. The swans watched me, heads up, and then two of them began to swim toward me. I’ve seen this behavior before a few times, where swans simply seem interested in what I was doing, often when I was in the kayak. They simply seem to have a sense of curiosity.
The two came pretty close, maybe 20 yards. After a while, the other six did the same until all eight were near me. They never seemed alarmed, simply curious. I moved a few times simply to see what they would do and it never alarmed them; they just raised their heads a bit to better view me.
I took photos, one after another after another. The birds swam close, looked at me, beautiful birds alive in the sun of a cold April morning.
After a half an hour or so, they swam back to where they started. I watched them go. And then I leaned back, blew into my chilled fingers and smiled about it all. It is not every day that big, wild birds see you from a distance and come closer for a look for no other reason than to see what I was up to.
I think they are trumpeters (this is based on some enlargements to better check their bills, plus their honkish vocalizations). However, the differences between tundra and trumpeter are slight, so I’m only guessing at it, though I feel fairly confident.
To view a complete photo gallery, click here.