I was out at Merced NWR doing some scouting for a group trip Iím leading there next week (want to join us Thereís still room: https://ticketbud.com/events/409e4e34-e516-11e7-a7db-d7a15b74abd7), and on the way home, I decided I had time for a quick look at San Luis NWR, so I tried the Waterfowl Tour route. I didnít see anything exceptionally special either places, but along the two-way roadway area of the Waterfowl tour, I ran into a quite large number of Swans ó about 40.
Many were close enough for some photography, so I hauled out the camera and took some shots. Now that Iím home and looking at the photos, Iím puzzling over a swan. Iíd love your opinions on the one on the right:
What catches my eye is the body shape and neck shape being very different from the swan on the left, plus the neck being much slimmer. And that beak. And being really hesitant to yell OMG TRUMPETER, Iím just not sure what Iím seeing here. Is it a younger Tundra still growing into its beak Maybe a hybrid I canít convince myself itís a tundra swan, but I canít convince myself itís not. And in case it is special, I wanted to show off the photos so folks could decide if they wanted to go for a look before it left. This shot was taken about 2:30PM, so I expect the birds to stick around overnight at least.
Curious about your opinions on this one. Iím not sure what to think.
(For what itís worth, Merced NWR was rocking today with large numbers of white and GWF geese and many sandhill cranes. Theyíre mowing the corn so there were multiple hundreds of cranes in the field feeding. The one big change from my big scout trip two weeks ago is many of the Shovelers seem to have left, along with some of the pintails, so duck numbers were down, but still a good diversity of duck species were still around, including refinding some buffleheads and canvasbacks and a group of ruddy ducks, all unusual for me in what I generally see as a dabbling duck location. San Luis NWR was much quieter and also showed the reduced shoveler numbers, but I also ran into an American Bittern wandering along the side of the road about 1/4 mile short of the turn onto the Waterfowl turn. Other than that, mostly the usual suspects both places. Someone I talked to at Merced let me know about a fairly big group of egrets along Sandy Mush west of the refuge and said he thought it had some cattle egret in it, so I drove past and looked, and my thought was that they were great/snowy but I didnít look in great detail because there wasnít a good stopping placeÖ So, FYI they might be around somewhereÖ)
Chuq Von Rospach - http://www.chuqui.com
Silicon Valley, California