Trumpeter Swans

This morning I took a Zipcar out to do some targeted birding on Long Island. First stop was the Timber Point Golf Course West Marina for the Dovekie. However the marina had frozen over and it left overnight. Damn. Should have gone yesterday. And the pictures others got were so cute! These are adorable birds, and you usually have to take a pelagic to get even a quick glimpse of one flying by half a klick away.

Then 30 miles northeast to Upper Lake in Yaphank for my life Trumpeter Swans. The lake had also frozen over, but there was a little water in the far north corner of the lake, and there they were:

2 White swans with black bills

Only it turns out to due to captive breeding and release programs Trumpeter Swans aren’t accepted as countable in New York. Double Damn. This is actually the 5th swan species for my list (after Mute, Black, Whooper and Tundra) but only 2–Mute and Tundra–are countable where I saw them.

Apologies for the photo, by the way. The birds were far away, and I’m back to my Tamron 28-300 for the moment while I wait out the rumored 3 Canon releases in February. Maybe I’ll rent a 400 f/4 DO in the meantime. I have been haunting Craig’s List and eBay, but not actually winning anything so far.

The swans had been reported much closer to the publicly accessible viewing area and within easy photo range, but that was before the lake froze over. Fortunately I had a scope. Otherwise I could have never ID’d the relevant field marks on these two. In this photo you can see the large, sloping black bills, and in binoculars you could make out the black legs, both of which rule out the common invasive Mute Swan. However the scope was necessary to establish that there wasn’t any yellow around the eye, which would have tunred thes two into the somewhat more common Tundra swans.

As I was finishing up at Upper Lake, some other birders drove up who reported that they’d heard from the Internet that the Dovekie had been seen today, so I raced back to Timber Point. Only the reports proved wrong. The Internet reports had been of previous days’ sightings. The Dovekie has likely returned to its natural home on the open ocean (we hope). Swim well little bird.

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