Away from home: Skagit swans 3

One of the most impressive views of the Skagit Valley migrating birds are the great masses of them when a flock takes flight. Camera in hand, I only caught a few here and there. The best I managed was here.

However many are in the air I find swans beautiful and elegant and often their wing movements synchronize as they fly.

They’re beautiful to see.

Interestingly, even in the middle of a flock swans take off and land without bumbling into one another.

Away from home: Skagit swans 1

Smaller flocks of trumpeter swans that gathered nearer to roads in the Skagit Valley permitted closer shots. Some foraged in grass, others in the muddy fallow fields.

Maybe it’s common among swans but I was impressed with this one’s version of swan yoga. Maybe it was sick of standing in mud but if this isn’t a variation on a yoga balance pose I don’t know what is.

As if to cap its performance it blithely tucked its head back, still on one leg.

Away from home: Skagit snow geese

The Skagit Valley, about a 3 hour drive east of Sequim (including a ferry ride), is a winter birding hotspot. I’d seen terrific photos and videos of great masses of snow geese and swans in the flooded agricultural fields. It seemed a practical way to see what I could learn about shooting birds by paying a visit. This scene greeted us not long after we arrived in LaConner, a sweet little town at the edge of the Skagit Valley.

We roamed the valley for a couple of days. This was as close as we could get to large groups of birds. We found many smaller flocks of swans not far from the road, feeding, resting, honking, and bugleing.

This was a group of hundreds. A wide angle lens would have done it more justice but I was still excited by the sight.

Away from home

We took a short winter trip to the Skagit Valley recently. It is an agricultural region north of Seattle. In the spring there are vast fields of tulips and daffodils and other crops. In the winter many flooded fields are temporary homes to migrating birds. We went bird hunting but also enjoyed the beauty of the area. So we’ll be exploring another part of Washington state in coming days.

For those who wonder, the white behind the trees is either low clouds, controlled burns, or chimney smoke. It’s too wet for wildfires.

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. today as he is honored on this national holiday: a brave, thoughtful, and articulate leader.