The Tundra Swans of Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

A lone Tundra Swan and the snowy Promontory MountainsA lone Tundra Swan and the snowy Promontory Mountains – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/2500, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm with 1.4x TC, natural light

I spent part of my morning yesterday being serenaded by the calls of thousands of Tundra Swans at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in northern Utah. It won’t be long before the swans leave and head north to their breeding grounds. Their calls are as delightful to me as the calls of the Sandhill Cranes. There is something timeless about those sounds.

I took over 400 hundred images yesterday morning of the Tundra Swans and of them all I found I liked the image above the most with a single swan in flight with the snow-covered Promontory Mountains in the distant background. Even though the swan was distant when I viewed this image it felt intimate to me.

Tundra Swan lifting offTundra Swan lifting off – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/3200, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm with 1.4x TC, natural light

Some of the swans were feeding, preening, bathing and some were taking off for morning flights. Tundra Swans have to run a long way to lift their large bodies into the air which gave me time to get quite a few lift off shots.

Tundra Swans in flight on a March morningTundra Swans in flight on a March morning – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/2500, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm with 1.4x TC, natural light

Of all the Tundra Swans I photographed yesterday there were two adult flying together with markers on their necks, U974 and U961, that I reported to the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Bird Banding Laboratory. I can’t wait to find out where they were banded and how old they are now.

Seeing and photographing these large, graceful swans is always a delight for me but especially on a day with plenty of light. In the image above I like how the top swan’s wing position is different than the three flying below it and how similar the wing position is for those three swans.

Adult Tundra Swan in flightAdult Tundra Swan in flight – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 500, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm with 1.4x TC, natural light

I was able to get a few close shots as some of the swans flew past. This one seems to have a feather on its bill which probably got stuck when the swan was preening.

If you live in Utah and want to see some Tundra Swans I would highly recommend seeing and hearing them at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge but you had better hurry because they will soon migrate to their breeding grounds on the tundra in the far north.

Life is good.

Mia

4 Comments

  1. Jane Chesebrough March 7, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    Would love the auto route tour. Enjoyed the photos and the recording.

  2. Elephant's Child March 6, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    Just beautiful. I envy you these sights – and am grateful (so very grateful) that you share so generously.

  3. Utahbooklover March 6, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Nice assortment of images, such magnificent birds. I’ll see if my wife has time to visit the refuge today.

    • Utahbooklover March 6, 2015 at 8:59 pm

      We did find the time to take the auto loop tour. Nice to be so far from everything. Yes we did see some swans in the distance and a dozen pelicans fishing as they went by, plus lots of ducks, coots, etc. Thanks for the tip.

Comments are closed.