Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mission: Success

Trumpeter Swan, Magness Lake, Arkansas

We (Gardening Daughter, Granddaughter, Great-Granddaughter, and I) enjoyed our afternoon trip to Magness Lake, near Heber Springs, Arkansas.  The lake, about 60 miles northeast of our home, is the late November to early March home for a flock (170-200) of Trumpeter Swans.  Neither daughter nor I had seen these birds before, and the experience was well worth the trip.

Magness Lake is located on the E & W Wildlife Refuge.  The area from which visitors can observe the swans is separated from the lake by a heavy wire fence which, fortunately, has openings in it large enough to accommodate the extended lens of a camera.  All my photos were shot either through the fence or by standing on tip-toe to clear the fence.

We arrived at the lake around 3:15 and found it populated by a relatively small number of swans, myriad Ring-Necked Ducks, and one Graylag Goose. The photo below reminds me of a flotilla of aircraft carriers surrounded by tug boats!

 Trumpeter Swans and Ring-Necked Ducks
gathering at the edge of the lake to eat shelled corn thrown by visitors

It's hard to judge the size of the swans in a photograph, but for comparison purposes, the Ring-Necked Ducks are 17" long.  The swans are huge!  And noisy! I wish I could have captured the sounds they were making.

The bulk of the flock leaves the lake early in the morning to graze on distant fields and does not return until just before dark.  Unfortunately, we could not stay at the lake to see them.  Perhaps I can make the trip again sans young children and stay until the returning swans fly in. It must be a wonderful sight to see.

Sorry -- fuzzy foto

I got only one photo of a Trumpter in flight, and that one was on the far side of the lake, taking off with a great "whump, whump, whump" of wings beating against the water.  Even at a distance, though, it was easy to see that its wing-span was amazing  -- from what I've read about them, the wing-span is around eight feet.

I took a lot of photos, but I found upon examination that I am more successful in capturing a flower (which doesn't move around) than I was at capturing wild life.  I need more experience! 

 At center is a Greylag Goose, which also enjoys the free corn-handouts. The goose is about 34" long

Bottoms-Up! Juvenile Trumpeter Swan (note dark feathers) diving for corn thrown by Granddaughter

I judge this beautiful swan to be an adolescent - mostly white, as are adults,
with some remaining grey-brown feathers on head and  neck.


Young  Royalty

We were treated to a nice light show on the way home. I do love to see Crepuscular Rays.

Tomorrow is also a day.


Nutmeg said...

Fabulous photos. Thanks. Nutmeg

Mimi Foxmorton said...

Mimi Foxmorton's scary bird nightmare............
I am so afraid of birds........

Arkansas Patti said...

You inspired me Pat and I just came back from Lake Magness. What a treat. I will post tomorrow and link to you for your neat Swan pictures. Wasn't that take off noise awesome?
Thanks so much for telling me about this.

Suldog said...

Don't denigrate your camera skills. Those are nice shots.

I know how big geese are, so those are some pretty big birds.

Moannie said...

Absolutely fabulous pictures...if I have to pick one it would have to be the diving swan...bottoms up. Seems like it was a lovely day out.

StitchinByTheLake said...

I can't believe I didn't know about this place! My husband and I have camped at Heber Springs many, many times but always on the river for the trout fishing. Thanks for posting this. blessings, marlene

Pat - Arkansas said...

Thanks, SULDOG, but you didn't see the hundred or so crummy photos I left on the cutting room floor.

Hilary said...

What a wonderful way to spend the day. Your photos are enjoyable. And don't fret about how many you delete. I only keep about 20-25% of the photos I take. Gotta love digital!

Marvin said...

Looks like you had a great trip. We read about the swans and Lake Magness and made the trip several years ago. They are magnificent birds and the story about how Arkansas once again "accidentally" became a destination for migrating swans is inspiring.

I too think you got some very good photos. Professional wildlife photographers end up rejecting most of their photos. The great thing about digital is that it allows the rest of us to do the same without having to worry about the cost.

Anonymous said...

A nice set of photographs. From all angles too.

Reader Wil said...

Hi Pat! These photo are really magnificent! What beautiful birds swans are. How clever of you to take a photo of a swan in flight.

George said...

I think you got some wonderful pictures of the swans. They are certainly regal birds. I also enjoyed your picture of the sun rays.

NitWit1 said...

Absolutely magnificient pictures--wildlife is a challenge to the professionals who spend their lives doing nothing else.

So glad you got to see them, and so many other ducks, etc.

Great post!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

HI There, We are home after a few days with friends in North Carolina.

So glad that you all got to see the swans. You captured some fabulous pictures of them. I hope to see them someday...I've been to Heber Springs--a long time ago.

That sun picture is FABULOUS.

Hope you are having a good week.

KleinsteMotte said...

Awesome. I once had to help a daughter with research on this bird and learned a great deal. they are very useful at keeping ponds clean. For the grand and great grandkids The Trumpet Swan by E.B.White is a lovely book.

Tracy said...

I had to stop over and visit because Arkansas Patti said so :) nah, not really in those words but I'm glad she sent me; beautiful photos! I like the swans but I truly love the sunset!
thanks for sharing your trip!

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Oh! What beautiful swans, I would love to see and photograph such beautiful creatures.