As I put the chickens away two nights ago, a line of gleaming white swans flew low over the horizon, under a deep orange setting sun. I suspected that these were wild swans beginning their journey northwards to their summering grounds in Iceland. Most years there are a couple of evenings when I see this spectacle. In the past some of these flocks have flown right over the house.
These are not the Mute Swans with which most people are familiar, but Whooper Swans (and possibly Bewick's Swans) which visit us only for the winter. They seem whiter than our resident swans and sleeker. With close enough views, their bills are different, with patches of yellow instead of orange, and lacking the bulbous base of a mute swan.
Anyway, as I returned home from the Smallholders meeting late yesterday afternoon, I caught sight of a group of swans settled in the field right next to our farm. I shot upstairs to view them from the bedroom window and yes, they were indeed Whoopers.
There is a flock of Mute Swans which spends most of the winter in the fields round here, usually over toward South Holland Main Drain, but only in the coldest winter do any of these wild swans join them.
|A very distant record shot, but good enough to show the bills.|
The departure of the wild swans is a sure sign that winter is over (cue frost, snow and ice!).
It won't be long before the swallows are back nesting n the stables.