88 Swans

My swan, let us fly to that land
Where your Beloved lives forever.
That land is always soaked in moonlight;
Darkness can never come near it. ~Kabir

Beechwood Farm signYesterday, I attended a training session for the upcoming Christmas Bird Count sponsored by the National Audubon Society.  I’ve been to Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve, headquarters of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, several times this fall to photograph birds and familiarize myself with the walking trails. Fall and winter are great times to film birds as they are more visible in the bare trees and underbrush. After ninety minutes of classroom training, we set out on the trails to practice identification techniques. Although the air was cold, the sky was a brilliant clear blue studded with a few white clouds and a light coating of snow that reflected the morning light and outlined every tree and branch.

tundra swansAt the end of a delightful walk on which we observed juncos, cardinals, mourning doves, chickadees and a pair of red-tailed hawks, someone spotted a full V of flying swans high in the sky. We had seen a smaller group pass over earlier in a single line but this second group was huge.  True to our training, our guide Gabby studied the birds with binoculars and compared their calls to the bird calls on her Audubon phone app, confirming that they were tundra swans. I later counted 88 swans in the photo of this flying V – a magnificent sight!

Here are a few images of our walk around the lake at Beechwood and a short video from my cell phone of the swans in flight. Enjoy! (All photographs ©2013 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved.)

Here’s a link to the sound of the tundra swan from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. They have a higher pitched voice than the Canadian goose, with less of a low honk.