Lonely Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swan

There have been some events since the previous post (about the eagle).  The brand new Canon 100-400L II lens I received just before Christmas turned out to be defective.  I returned it and received the replacement lens yesterday.  Today I took it our for a shake-down cruise and hit the wildlife jackpot.

I was hiking along the East Cranberry Lake Trail in Deception Pass State Park.  It skirts the shoreline between West Beach and the East Cran picnic grounds.  In a lagoon next to the trail, I spotted this Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) just quietly floating there alone.

Trumpeter Swan

If you're familiar with the park, you will recall the marshy island with the trees at the edge of the lake.  The swan was near the trail just inside this island.  I fully expected the bird to bolt at my approach, but it didn't.  Instead, it remained very still allowing me to take some photos.  Then, very slowly, it began to glide smoothly past the island and out into the lake.

Trumpeters can be difficult to distinguish from Tundra or Whistling Swans.  Trumpeters have a flatter crown of the head that slopes almost parallel to the beak plane.  Tundras have a rounder crown and usually a yellow patch in front of the eye.

Trumpeter Swan

The Trumpeter Swan is the largest waterfowl in North America and the largest of the world's swans.  Weighing 20 to 38 pounds (9-17 kg) they are also one of our heaviest flying birds.  By 1900, they were thought to be extinct.  Small, isolated populations and conservation efforts have helped to restore their numbers.  Among the lower 48 U.S. states, Washington now has the largest population.

I am accustomed to seeing them in small groups of around a dozen or so.  It was unusual to spot a single bird alone like this.  Our meeting was a private moment I will remember.

Oh, and the replacement lens performed flawlessly.