I first spotted the 11 swans on Lake Washington back in late January. I had been birding in the Washington Park Arboretum and was making my way across the Foster Island boardwalk when I noticed several large white birds across the water towards the Union Bay Natural Area, commonly known as “The Fill” among local birders. I was stopped in my tracks – never had I seen Trumpeter Swans on Lake Washington. This was a rare treat, or I thought it was. But this group of birds decided to stick around and I saw them again only a few days later. Whenever I was walking in the area over the next couple weeks, people would see my binoculars and ask me if I had seen the swans – even non-birders were taking notice – but how could they not? Trumpeter Swans are graceful, elegant, and huge. They are hard to ignore, even for people who don’t usually take a second look at birds. Now people were pausing in their jogs and walks to stop and appreciate the new Lake Washington residents.
Some time passed, and I didn’t get out towards the Fill for a few weeks or at least not long enough to bird. So when I treated myself to a walk there last week I was pleased to find that rare visitors had stuck around – and they weren’t being camera shy! All 11 were up close to shore last Friday afternoon and many a photographer was taking advantage of the fact. I, unfortunately (or fortunately if I consider I would have to carry it), don’t have a fancy digiscope or huge SLR to take pictures of birds. However, I have learned to take shots with my little digital camera through my binoculars. They don’t always turn out that great, but every once in a while I get something that will pass. Here are a few of those.