Just back from a paddle on Arrowhead Lake (Milton/Georgia) where I saw some kind of swan. Of course I didn't have my binoculars with me, but from what I could see it had a mostly black beak, some yellow on the face, dark legs. The legs didn't look really black like the pic of a Tundra in Sibley's, but the bird sure wasn't a Mute. (Is there such a thing as a domestic sawn?) Whatever it was, it was no less than obnoxious. First, it flew from quite a distance to attack several Canada Geese that innocently landed on the water, nowhere near the swan. The swan made an amazing noise as it flew toward the geese that we could hear from several hundred yards away. It sounded like thumping wing beats rather than vocalizing. After it scared the geese onto the shore, it patrolled the area, to be sure they stayed where it wanted them. Shortly thereafter, it put on the same thumping performance while chasing a dog away from the shoreline. Then it settled on a log several yards fr!
om the shore, preening its wings and twisting its head and neck into an impossible position to rub its neck over its wings. As I slowly and quietly approached it, with much trepidation (my friend stayed way back, but promised she'd come to my rescue if the bird attacked me), it continued preening while making it very obvious that it knew I was there. Finally, when I got to within 20 feet, it turned, slowly slid into the water, and sedately swam away from me as though to say "OK, you're bigger than I, but I won't be intimidated."
Although the swan was the highlight of the evening, there was much more to see. In one small cove, 7 (yes, 7!!) Great Blue Herons stood in shallow water watching for fish. Two Turkey Vultures perched on the limb of a dead tree about 15 feet above the water and sat there watching us with the stereotypical craned-neck pose as we paddled right under them--I've never seen one so close. The Osprey baby was on the platform nest; its parents flew around and dove for fish. And then we discovered, when we got too close and the parents yelled at us, another Osprey nest with 2 babies, this one built on a snagged log (the bottom of the nest was no more than 4 feet off the water) in the middle of the lake. A small family of Black Ducks hardly moved as we paddled by, an American Bittern flushed as we glided too close, the usual contingent of gulls were on their favorite snagged logs. Several swallows got a real surprise when our heads came within inches of their nests as we paddled !
under the bridge from the lake to the marsh on the other side of the road. The marsh hosted more Great Blue Herons and thousands of frogs that fled in front of our boats.
What a special evening it was! And we were the only boats on the lake!!