Sunrise with the Swans

I have been wanting to visit the Trumpeter swans that overwinter on the Mississippi River at Monticello, MN for some time, and since the weather doesn’t seem like it will ever warm up, a friend and I braved the -12F temperature (-30 F with wind) chill to take some photos.

The view right at sunrise.  Most of the river is frozen, but the swans keeps a narrow channel open near shore.

The view right along the Mississippi River at sunrise. Most of the river is frozen, but the swans keeps a narrow channel open near shore.

A few minutes later, the golden light turned the snow pink.  Most of the swans were still sleeping on the ice.

A few minutes later, the golden light turned the river ice/snow pink. Most of the swans were still sleeping on the ice, along with a few Canada Geese.

Still sleeping, even though the volume of trumpeting is so loud we have to shout to be heard.

Still sleeping, even though the volume of trumpeting is so loud we have to shout to be heard.

Trumpeter swans congregate here largely because they are being fed corn once a day by a kindly gentleman.  This tradition was started more than 20 years ago by one swan-loving woman, and has grown to such an enterprise that the 1200 pounds of corn doled out per week supports several thousand birds.  You can read more about her efforts here.

The intrepid photographer at work.

The intrepid photographer/blogger at work, beneath 5 layers of clothes just barely keeping her warm.  There were several retreats to a warm coffee shop during the 5 hours we spent here.

8 thoughts on “Sunrise with the Swans

    • Yes, indeed. As I said in the post, I got tired of waiting for it ever to warm up here, so weather be d….!. I thought I was pretty warmly dressed, but that cold air and wind can really penetrate. They haven’t invented gloves that allow you to keep your fingers warm, while still being able to focus and press the shutter on a camera. Painfully cold fingers! But worth it — more exciting photos to come in the next day or two.

    • Thanks, Christina, I was really hoping for a more dramatic sunrise. We have had a few of those lately, but this time the sun came up with very little of the dramatic sky coloration you sometimes see right before it gets above the horizon. Maybe next time.

  1. Beautiful but oh so frigid. I am amazed that the swans can adapt to this level of cold even with a steady supply of food. I know I’m not that adaptable, which is why I haven’t been out walking in a month!

    • It is amazing to see them all asleep on the ice, but swans are well endowed with feathers (I believe they have the record for the most feathers — some 20,000 or so), and they practice what a lot of animals do in the winter by letting their feet cool to the same temperature as their surroundings, so they stick to the ice (like ice cubes stick to our fingers). I wrote a post last year on this topic: see https://bybio.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/cold-feet/ if you are interested in it.

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