Sunday, March 02, 2014

Whooper Swans singing a Swan Song in March

I don't think I have seen so many swans in one flock before. I guess there were about 500, it is common that they gather in large flocks of 500-1000 swans in winter. They were singing their special song,and  they were really singing loudly  - as if they were all joining the Pilgrims Chorus from Tannhäuser.  Suddenly they got agitated over something and their voices rose to inferno and chaos. I'm not sure the farmer-family on the other side of the road has a good night's sleep if the swans stay there for some days, singing  their swan song each night !!

But they are beautiful birds, and it was a great experience to watch such a big flock. Soon they will fly eastwards to their breeding places in Scandinavia and Russia, some of them will fly all the way to Sibiria and to the Pacific coast. It is so amazing.   

I did not use a wide angle lens - I did not have space enough for a photo of the whole flock, which spread over a large area.



The Whooper Swan (Source: DOF, Dansk Ornitologisk forening, Fugle og Natur) 
The whooper swan is of same size as the mute swan, but easy to recognize with its yellow beak, which has no black knot like the mute swan. It keeps its neck more straight and higher than the mute swan, and it has a strong and very sonorous voice, sounding almost like a trumpeting - contrarily to the mute swan, which usually is silent, except from the rhytmic singing sound from the wings during flight. 

The whooper swan is a common guest in Denmark in the winter season and is often seen in large flocks in fields or in the the outskirts of flocks of mute swans in lowwatered areas.

The whooper swan breeds in forest moors and lowwatered lakes in a large nothern region from Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and in a broad belt in Russia and Sibiria till the Pacific coast. The whooper swan has expanded with breeding pairs south to Skåne and also eastern Germany. In Denmark a single pair has tried to breed in North Jutland. In 2007 three breeding pairs were registered in Denmark, two pairs in  West Himmerland in some small moors, and one pair in Bølling Sø (lake) at Silkeborg. One pair in Himmerland had eight chicks.

Denmark is together with Germany the most important overwintering area for the whooper swan in Europe. It also overwinters in large numbers in Great Britain and Ireland, but is seen in most European countries in the winter season, except in Spain, Portugal and Italy. The whooper swan stays mostly in Denmark during mild winters, but migrates southwards in hard winters.

The food of the whooper swan is water plants, grass and winter crops like wheat and rape. 

Thrre swans came flying and landed by the flock.
They had been out on a little study trip I suppose! 

photo 1 March 2014, a field near the village Løve: grethe bachmann


Out on the prairie said...

What a treat to see and listen to.

Thyra said...

Hej Steve, Yes, it is but I forgot, that maybe there is a link to the song on the net.

Grethe ´)