March 16, 2004

The Water Hole

This morning I photographed along the bayous of the Manistee River.

Waterfowl are migrating back into the area, with more birds showing up every day. Most of the lakes and ponds in the area are still frozen over, so for the ducks, geese and swans that are coming back open water is in high demand. Rivers for the most part stay free of ice, but this time of year the flow can be very strong from the run off of melting waters. Birds prefer the slower waters out of the way of the main current.

In the bayous, or back aters of the Manistee River there is still ice in spots. Where I was photographing there is a natural spring that bubbles up warmer water that keeps away the ice. During this time of year it really draws in the waterfowl. I saw several mallard ducks, canvasbacks, Canadian Geese, and swans.

The swan in these photos was feeding right over the top of the spring. This let me get quite close to it while it milled around in the general area. Swans generally feed in fairly shallow spots, they feed underwater, but they don't actually dive under. They dip their heads under the water and feed along the bottom, but they keep their rumps floating above water. So basically they feed only as deep as their necks will let them reach. Swans can seem a little incongruous sometimes. Their long, graceful necks and large stature give them an almost regal look as the paddle around. But when they feed all you can see is their bottoms sticking out of the water... a look that is a bit at odds with the rest of their appearance.

There appear to be a pair of swans here. They mate for life and noticed one of them investigating a hummock along the cattails. In years past there have been several families of swans raised in these bayous, so I'm hoping that this pair might stay in the area and nest where I can continue to photograph them. Time will tell.

March 12, part 2, 2004

March 21, 2004