This is my first picture of a Trumpeter Swan, taken Jan. 21, 2014, at the Ridgefield NWR. The bird was alone in the water, hundreds if not thousands of feet away from huge flocks of other swans in Rest Lake. Two other cars had already stopped and were taking photos. I did the same. After a minute or two, it struck me as to why this bird would be at this end of the lake all by itself, only 30 feet from the edge of the road. Why did it not fly away? Wild swans rarely locate in waters close to the road at Ridgefield.
It dawned on me that the swan must have been ill. It would swing its neck around, sometimes with its bill open and call out. I can’t say that this particular behavior is not normal since this is my first encounter with a Trumpeter–especially this close up. I did not see any physical evidence of injury to the bird. But the fact that it was here, by itself, and allowing cars to approach so close just didn’t seem right to me. The bird was there for hours and I took many shots of it in two 5-minute sessions. Not knowing if the bird was in pain or not in some of the poses, I chose to post this handsome portrait as my initial image.
Later in the day, I again approached the area where the bird had been for many hours. It was no longer there. But I had stopped my truck and noticed in my rear view mirror that the bird had hunkered down at the very west end of the same waterway, near the bank. Cars passing this area would not see it unless they turned around and looked back. Such unusual behavior and so sad. We can hope that the swan doesn’t suffer long. I was excited to get such a close opportunity to photograph this bird but I was saddened by the circumstances.
Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1250, f9, ISO 1250, 700mm (500 + 1.4x)