At 9:30 this morning, I watched the first tundra swans flying north over the hollow. I was walking on Black Gum Trail, which follows along Laurel Ridge about half-way between the road and the ridge crest, and had paused to watch a pileated woodpecker finding its breakfast in a dead limb of a nearby red oak. The pileated was hanging to the bottom of the limb, and I watched through the zoom lens of my camera as he tapped and fed, probably for carpenter ants. The swans were nearly silent and quite high up, and I’m sure I wouldn’t have noticed them if I hadn’t stopped. They were strung out in a line of about 25 birds, with only one bird following the leader on the other side to form a very lopsided “V.”

This too will be entered on the graph-paper version of our Spring Arrivals list, which has now been affixed to the refrigerator in my parents’ house. For many years, we recorded the date we first saw migrant Canada geese, instead, but stopped around 2002 because so many Canada geese had stopped migrating altogether — it became difficult to tell the migrants from flocks of local geese moving between local lakes and fields. That was a completely new phenomenon for our area; there were no year-round resident geese around here until sometime in the early- to mid-90s. To compensate, we began keeping records on swans, instead. Like Canada geese, tundra swans tend to fly over sometime between February 20 and March 15.



About Dave Bonta

I'm the author of several books of poetry, including Ice Mountain: An Elegy, Breakdown: Banjo Poems, and Odes to Tools, but my real work is at my long-running literary blog Via Negativa, where I'm currently creating erasure poems from every entry of the Diary of Samuel Pepys. I'm also the editor and publisher of Moving Poems, a blog showcasing the best poetry videos on the web.

Posted on March 9, 2007, in birds, spring arrivals, tundra swans. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Dave, no picture of the swans?

  2. No, sorry. They were very high, and I was trying to shoot through the treetops with a camera set to auto-focus.

  3. Stacy and I almost came for a visit to Plummer’s Hollow today, but we ended up heading to the Alan Seeger Natural Area to hike through the old-growth forest. We decided we’d like to explore PH in the spring/early summer, but I showed him the blog and he was definitely interested.

  4. That’s cool. If you give me advance notice when you plan to come, I could probably be persuaded to give you a tour of some portions of the property off-limits to casual visitors. Right around leaf-out is probably the best time to see the hollow.

  5. We were hoping you might offer a tour. ;-)

  1. Pingback: Via Negativa » Blog Archive » Walking in the snow

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