Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Swans are really big

The woods at the Naugatuck State Forest were bursting with life when I went for a walk there this morning. Still not much in the way of green things, but the critters were out in force, soaring and scurrying and sailing, and -- in the case of a particularly antsy squirrel -- screaming (at me).

The waterways were especially busy. I counted 26 Common Mergansers, although they kept diving below the surface of the water, so I wouldn't be surprised if there were actually more. And on one end of the lake, three Mute Swans had come to hang out.

Really, these are impressive birds, and they were definitely drawing attention -- someone else (other than me) was taking pictures (the swans didn't seem to be too wary of people), and another guy I passed said he'd never seen swans in these lakes before. (And I mean, I hadn't either, but he seemed to have more experience with these woods than I have.)

Swan butt!
Mute Swans, I have learned, are actually native to Europe and Asia, but they were introduced to North America in the late 19th century and have since made themselves at home here. From what I've read, they can be quite aggressive and invasive, taking nesting spots from native species, and doing the sorts of things we're not supposed to like about introduced species. But... they sure are pretty, so I find myself conflicted on this issue.

I came across a few Eastern Chipmunks on my walk, and I have to say, I do appreciate how they tend to startle and make noise when I get near (so I know they're there), and then sit perfectly still for a long time (so I can take a picture). The chipmunk in this picture probably would have sat there much longer than it did, if an unleashed dog hadn't come tearing through the underbrush and scared it away. Ah well, I'm not bitter (even though there's a sign that says dogs should be on leashes), and I quite like how this photo turned out anyway. Chipmunks are just too cute. :D

One last observation for today: I watched this Black-Capped Chickadee having a feeding frenzy on the bugs crawling out of this stump. For some reason, I've always assumed that chickadees were mainly seed-eaters (probably because they're so common at bird feeders), so I guess I was a little surprised to find out that they really like bugs, too.

I love how practically every time I go into the woods, I end up learning new things and seeing new creatures. Hooray for discovery!

1 comment:

  1. The swans are so beautiful (and great photos). I certainly don't have any here in the FL panhandle area but I remember seeing them in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. I miss chipmunks. I've never seen one in any part of Florida in the 25 years I've been here. How adorable (and how nice of them to pose for you).
    Chris Horvath