Explorer and Independent Biologist

Thursday, 10 March 2011

When the wild swans fly...

As the spring equinox draws inexorably closer, March is transition time for wildlife. There are still reminders of winter, but also strong signs of spring. Summer migrant birds have already arrived on the southern shores of Britain, whilst in Cumbria, a very few spring flowers have dared to open their petals in sheltered sun-traps on south-facing banks.

Crocuses give a splash of colour to the hedgerow

 A delicate primrose dares to show, defying night-time frosts

Summer migrant birds have not yet reached Cumbria, but some of our winter-visitors are hanging on, preparing to depart soon, to head north to their tundra breeding grounds. I visited Martin Mere wetland wildfowl refuge to see some of the last wild geese and swans from the observation hides before they leave.

On the surrounding pastures, hundreds of Pink-footed Geese 
look restless as think about getting on their way

A colourful male Brambling fattens up at a bird feeder 
before departing for Lapland

On the mere, groups of wild Whooper Swans face into the wind, 
perhaps waiting for one or two more food handouts before migrating to Iceland

Some pairs of Whooper Swans are already "getting in the mood",
engaged in their synchronised courtship display

"Farewell, I'm leaving soon; see you next winter!"


  1. Lovely photos of the swans.
    Nice seeing you today!

  2. Extraordinary birds, swans are, to me that is. We don't see them as much here in Maryland as we used to.
    Canadian geese is another thing all together. Millions of them are about, and I'm tired of seeing them, though I do enjoy seeing them fly and honk in their V.

    I heard that if one goose falters, and has to land, then two others will land with him, and stay with him, until he has recovered, or dies. So that they can help him regain flight.

    Excellent photos. Thanks.

  3. I always enjoy the information you provide in these posts mate.

    Also- we might need an alternate plan for april in terms of Lake Eyre. All the rivers are in flood in the centre and I have just checked if they are open. most are closed. That may change over the next 4 weeks.

  4. So far I had heard only about Whooper Cranes and did not know about Whooper Swans. Beautiful creatures! Going to Iceland for the summer is interesting, I'd rather turn south. ;-)

  5. Beautiful pics. Such graceful looking creatures.