Finally, swans have arrived. And another and another new ones have been arriving.
A week after the first spotting I made the ride to Lebyazhje once again to spend bight and meet birds early next morning. The good thing is that there are no people at the shoreline in the morning, especially on Monday. Another one advantage is cold air. Means that photographs would be sharper when taken without miracles and warm uplifting air streams which literally ruin the image.
At sunrise, I got out the car and was standing at the ruined pier, looking through a binocular here and there. A mammal passed by in the water, guess it was something like an otter. A number of cornorants were
shitting sitting on a large boulder in two hundred meters from the shore. In this empty morning silence I finally saw some swans to the west and two groups to the east.
Swans did not show too much of activity in the morning. They were waking up and stretching, and did their lazy float from bays where they had spent the night. Some of them could flap once or twice while stretching, but that was rare.
And here is another one of this kind – swans′ bottoms with a cargo ship in the background. Ducks float nearby silently and impressed.
I wanna pass by in a kayak and pinch one′s bottom! A girl, preferrably, but how to guess? They all look similar...
Those with short necks or having ground too far try to dive deeper, so their feet appear above water like if they were trying to grip the air and push themselves towards bottom.
So while swans were feeding, I walked along the beach and reached the beam of rocks which used to be occupied by seagulls.
Okay, there were seagulls sitting on rocks, just as usual. Swans were floating on shallow water nearby. Good, let them float. I wanted them to get accustomed to my presence. So I sat on a dry trunk near water edge, put on my hood, checked e-mail and replied to a few calls.
Meanwhile, swans started to gather near those rocks. Hot tempered ones started a squabble.
Everything starts when swans gather into a large group, and the most active ones begin to shout loudly – to whoop. That′s why they are called whooper swans (Cygnus cygnus).
Well, boys start to whoop loudly. Their necks are straight, their heads are pulled up – which one is higher? Wings are fully spanned, and swans flap them against water. Shiny sparks are all around wings, necks and strong black feet under bright spring sun – girls must be excited!
First clash seems to be harmless, however the faster one tries to bite the opponent′s tail. The winning swan secures his victory by a few full wing flaps. Then all birds get calm and continue feeding. Retired ones or just a couple of more sedate birds stand on a dry rock, clean their feathers and observe the area from above.
One more flock arrives from the west. Little by little, almost all the swans in the area gather on the shallow water just in front of me. And when there is a lot of them, it provokes the craziest ones to get up to mischief :)
Swans may gather into a group of 10–12 and again start whooping, flapping and try to bite one another′s tail.
Here′s one such moment – swan approachers the neighbour and tries to bite from behind.
Few minutes later everybody go calm down but some still whoop and swim towards neighbours with their necks tilted. If a neighbor dives down to eat algae, it looks like he is out of the game. The “squabbler” has then to swim by – the clash is cancelled.
Suddenly two swans approach from quite far away, tilt their necks aggressively, and whoop loudly. As a response, four swans from the main flock go to meet these “aggressors”.
They whoop too, tilt their necks and span their wings to demonstrate force. One more clash happens, water drops are everywhere, splashes, wing flaps, everything goes so fast that I lose the track of things, and cannot see where are the “friends” and where are the “foreigners”.
Again everybody get calm, and swans feed for almost one hour. Sometimes one could try to provoke the others, but haven′t seen any support, shuts up and dives to feed. Finally one managed to stir up the others, and one more clash happens.
shoutcaster swan clash commentator talent reached its limit by now, so I′ll just put the photos chronologically. The good thing is that you may see how things develop naturally, so no need for comments.