Sunday, January 11, 2009

                                   Tundra Swans

The weather forecast had been for snow and ice this weekend, and I was hoping for some winter wonderland images. Nope, we got all of an eighth of an inch. My backup plan was to go to Whitesbog in the Pinelands National Reserve and photograph the overwintering tundra swans. The image above is the aforementioned swans leaving not long after I arrived. 

                                   Tundra Swan

The bird above was a straggler. As the name implies there are a number of cranberry bogs at Whitesbog. The bogs are flooded over the winter, I believe to protect the cranberry plants. The tundra swans find them an inviting place to spend the winter. I drove up on the far side of the bog they were feeding in so as not to spook them. I had my big lens, a Questar 700, so the distance was not an issue. As I was setting up a group of hikers came out of the pines on the other side of the bog. And off were the swans. I grabbed my camera, which had my 400 mm lens on it, and started shooting. I got a few keepers. But all of the swans, a hundred or so, had left.

                                   Ice Covered Cranberry Bog.

I wandered about to see if the swans had moved to another of the bogs, but did not relocate them. Most of the bogs were ice covered, and the birds need open water so they can feed on the submerged plants. They don't each the cranberries, but another plant the name of which escapes me. 

                                   Wind Blown Reeds

It was below freezing and the wind was gusting to about fifteen miles per hour. And the weather was changing rapidly. The morning forecast called for snow, clouds, and sun. And I experienced them all in the three hours I was there.

                                   Bog and Road

I've hiked around these bogs but today I was glad to have my car. I have a Ford Escape Hybrid, and small SUV with 4 wheel drive. The spent most of the drive in "golf cart mode", that is, running on battery power. The roads were in good shape and I don't think I went into 4 wheel drive at all (buts it's good to have on the sand roads in the pines).


Thanks to the work done by Elizabeth White, blueberries were first successfully cultivated at Whitesbog. They also grow wild throughout the area.


tammymcchesney said...

Love everyone of these shots - you have captured winter really well - love the bird shots!

jo said...

Terrific shots -- all of them. But my favorite is the straggler.

LauraHinNJ said...

Whitesbog is one of my favorite places to wander... but I've never found tundra swans there... only out on that road... is it 563? By the Franklin Parker Preserve?

I'm always up for a trip there if you're ever looking for company... maybe you can share some of those *secret* wildflower spots?


Dogeared said...

What a shame the swans flew off when the hikers came! But it looks a beautiful spot to spend some time, even if the weather wasn't very nice!

MevetS said...

@ Tammy. Thanks. The bird shots almost didn't happen. Fortunately I had the right lens on my camera and was able to grab it and just start shooting.

@ Jo. I was lucky as that bird flew low right over me to catch up to the rest of the flock.

@ Laura. I've only ever seen tundra swans there. I tried once at Franklin Parker but no luck. And I'd love to wander around there with you, but we'll need to wait until it's a bit warmer to see any flowers!

@ Helen. What do ya mean, the weather was great! (I like the cold. :-)

Iona said...

Great photos to for winter. Even thought I like bird photos (not easy to capture), my favorite photo is the "Wind Blown Reeds". I like the stark contrasts.