Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Stranded Trumpeter Swans of Neklason Lake

Last September, I wrote about the family of Trumpeter swans that spent the summer on Neklason Lake, between Palmer and Wasilla, where we live.  In our 17 years on the lake, this is the first one where a Trumpeter swan pair hatched and raised cygnets.

From late September until a few days ago, they flew further and further afield from the lake, even as hundreds of other traveling Trumpeter swans and tens of thousands of visiting, migrating birds, visited the lake briefly.

Last week, isolated and shallow portions of the lake started icing over.

Early this week - Monday night - most of the rest or the lake froze, as the temperature dipped to 8 degrees F.  We were sure the swan family was gone, but yesterday afternoon, Judy saw them, at the end of the lake where Cottonwood Creek comes in.  It is still ice free, but getting smaller by the hour.

Early this afternoon, they walked from the ice free place near the creek, over to another, very small open hole in the ice, where some warm springs come upwelling out of the bottom muck.  Little freshwater clams and other food abounds there.

Then, a couple of hours later, they all walked the 120 yards back to the bigger pool.

There are mallards and a few other visiting birds in the bigger pool too.

Should I be worried about these swans?


Anonymous said...

Same thing here at Beluga lake. Family of swans were here till the end. With only one small hole in the lake still ice free i see no ducks or the swans only gulls. To me the cygnets looked too small to leave,but leave they must have or i dare not think the other outcome. AKjah.

HarpboyAK said...

Yeah, they should have left a month ago. Swans and geese migrating through the Mendenhall refuge peaked about 3 weeks ago, and are long gone.

Maybe they had it too good on the lake?

George said...

if they stay long enough for the ice to thicken for you to stand on it, get a skiff, chainsaw and pole. Push yourself onto the ice, cut a 100x10foot opening in the ice. Shove the ice blocks under the ice. the birds will take off, circle the lake and land on the water. been there, done that.

Philip Munger said...

The swans left Wednesday