Un-Usual Suspects

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms…

Mary Oliver
Swan -excerpt
Swan: Poems and Prose Poems
Beacon Press

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Two mute swans nesting within yards of each other on a very small island.

For nearly ten years I have plied these waters, spring, summer, fall. Bright sunlit days so crisp they take your breath away. Misty mornings with slate-grey clouds so close you could touch them.

It is a medium-size lake, and a circumnavigation takes a couple of hours on a day when the wind is perfect. After thousands of hours there afloat, I know the shoreline like the back of my proverbial hand.

Most of the wildlife is territorial. Most of the usual suspects can be found in their usual places, year-in-year-out, yet each spring’s nesting season brings surprises.

Watching a great blue heron approaching the mute swan in her nest last weekend was an unexpected first.

Paddling round the small island from the east a week ago revealed the pair of swans’ nests shown here. Never have I seen two swans nesting so close together – never. I didn’t think it possible.

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Two mute swans nesting within yards of each other on a very small island (close up with long lens).

There is an art to seeing the very familiar with fresh eyes, where no two days are the same.

It is a meditation to approach the lake with new eyes each outing, to not take for granted the usual suspects and their commonplace behaviors, to not fall into the trap of my own routines.

A frequent paddling route skirts the island on the western side, not the east. Had something not drawn me to the east that day, I would not have come across these two nesting swans.

Did I mention that no two days are the same?

Thanks to Paula for her wonderful Thursday’s Special Non-Challenge.

Thanks to Erica and WordPress for their Weekly Writing Challenge: Lost Art. May seeing the world with fresh eyes never become a lost art.

Thanks to Ailsa for her Weekly Travel Theme: Close Up.

Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for his Wild Bird Wednesday prompt.


A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Kayaking, Mute Swan

Posted on June 5, 2014, in Art, Audubon, DPchallenge, Kayaking, Mute Swan, Nature, Photography, Photography challenge, postaday, Thursday's Special, Weekly Photo Challenge, Weekly Travel Themes, Wild Bird Wednesday, Wildlife Photography and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I’ve never sen two mute swans nest so close together as that. However, I’ve been seeing them form flocks over the winter the past few years, maybe they are mellowing out now that there are so many of them?

    • You may be on to something regarding the swans starting to flock together. In the case of these two, my suspicion is the older swan is the mother of the younger swan, and so they tolerate each other’s presence more than stranger swans would.

  2. Indeed… no two days are the same. A long lens permits us to see what we would normally ignore. Fabulous. Thank you, Babsje!

  3. That first shot of the swans is quite magical, Babsje. And yes, looking at your familiar world afresh each time and seeing something new. I think Clarissa Pinkola Estes (Women who run with wolves) would call you a medial woman (if that’s how you spell it) – the looking beyond the obvious to see the extra-special – which is everywhere if we think to see it. Lovely post.

    • Many thanks for your thoughtful comment, Tish. I appreciate your reference to Estes’ Womea who run with wolves – I read that about 15 years ago or thereabouts, perhaps it is time for a reread. I’m glad you liked that first swan photo, it’s my favorite of the two. They were nestled in a shadowy glade, the sky was overcast and I sure the photo would have been quite different had it been bright and sunny out.

  4. What a fantastic discovery! You certainly don’t see nesting birds of any kind this close.

  5. The two nests in close proximity is a bit strange – normally (well, in my experience) these birds are not very social.

    Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne

    • Hi Stewart, thanks for commenting. I agree that it is strange that they have nested so close together. My theory is that one of the swans is the mother of the other nesting bird, and so they are more comfortable with each other than usual. But even that brings up the question of their mates – would two males put up with these nests so close together and not squabble? I can’t imagine that both nesting females share the same mate. (Or can that happen?)

  6. What a lovely life you’re living, Babsje, paddling around your lake, spotting two nesting swans, in addition to your daily herons. Your beautiful writing is a perfect complement to you r photos.

    • Many thanks for your thoughtful words, Susanissima. When it comes to writing, I admire yours very much. I’m curious about the origin of your blog’s title, Still Life with Tortillas.

  7. To see the world each day as if for the first time–what a fine goal for one’s life. Thanks for the reminder.

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