I can already hear the sound of excitement from at least one of my blog followers as he is reading this title. I know that Brian at Wildlife Intrigued is already scrolling through the pictures and comparing these to the swans we have in the Midwest of the USA. I have been a huge fan of his blog site, and have learned a great deal more about the birds I see while kayaking in the Midwest. We hope he, and none of the rest of our blogging community, are not disappointed in our attempt to venture into the birding world with our limited experience and lower quality photo equipment.
I do know one thing, that the idle winter months steer us towards either looking backwards at our last trips or forward to planning the new adventures. Today this is one of those time travel blogs back to last September 2018 when we were attending the Open Canoe Fest and took a side trip to the town of Hindeloopen in Friesland.
We hiked this rather large grassy dike leaving Hindeloopen heading to the parking lot outside of town. From the top we could look out over the Ijsselmeer which at one time was part of the North Sea.
In the distance we could see a rather large group of white water birds. At first we thought they were geese.
We moved closer, we saw it was in fact a group of swans.
We normally see swans in pairs as they are placed in those largely romantic settings around castles. The Keukenhof bulb gardens rents swans each Spring to greet the 1.2 million tourist that visit. But, these large majestic birds can also be found in almost every field and canal within the Dutch countryside making it sometimes difficult for those of us to navigate a safe paddle route without being warned or threatened by these creatures.
We have three kinds of swans that can be found in The Netherlands.
Wilde zwaan – Cygnus Cygnus- (Whooper Swan)
Kleine zwaan- Cygnus columbianus – (Tundra Swan)
Knobbelzwaan – Cygnus olor (The Mute Swan) – These are the ones that are most common in The Netherlands and the ones we found in this very large group in Hindeloopen.
As the Hubby pulled out our Nikon camera he got some closer shots. I noticed there was something strange to a few of the birds and asked him to zoom in and see what it was.
Yes, strange…this one seemed to have no head! But, a yellow numbered tag was visible.
When we returned after vacation we researched what those tag numbers meant. These are swans that were captured and tagged as part of a research program that identifies swans who feed on agricultural fields. The grazing of these birds costs farmers millions of Euros in damages each year and they are trying to find ways of tracking repeat offenders.
This was a short blog today looking back at our Hindeloopen trip of last fall. We hope for fair weather and some sunny skies this week so that I can get back out on the hiking trail.
Until then safe travels everyone!
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