Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Big Break-up

You can guess by the photo above that this post is not about the break-up of a marriage.
Today I managed to make a quick visit to Spenard Crossing. There has only been a little open water there for the last three or four days. Waterfowl have not hesitated to occupy the patches of open water.
Right now Alaska is experiencing Break-up, when the snow begins to melt, and ice on the lakes begins to disappear.
It always amazes me how the birds manage to show up virtually on the very day that the ice starts to melt. The Mallards have somehow persisted here right through the winter. The Canada Geese have only been here for a day or two. There is no exposed grass for them to feed on yet. What are they eating? My guess is that they are gleaning Birch seeds from the snow.

The only ducks at Spenard Crossing today were Mallards and Common Goldeneyes like this hen. More duck species will show up in a day or two. The light was very flat for photography, but I was able to get very close photos.

Another perspective of the same duck.
A nearby male, Common Goldeneye. There were two or three pairs present today.

The goldeneyes did not spend much time on the water's surface. They were constantly diving for fish or aquatic insects.
I got really close to this male.
It was a real surprize to see a pair of Trumpeter Swans at Spenard Crossing. They prefer larger bodies of water, but if this is the only open water around, they take what they can get.
I have never been able to get such close photos of wild swans before. Too bad the light was so bad. They are huge birds.
The whiter swan in the back is an adult, while the grayer bird is most likely one of last year's brood.
Another look at the younger bird.

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