Mornings along the creek

Today is two months after the winter solstice (Dec 21), and we now have two more hours of daylight each day (almost 11 hours). More importantly, the sun rises each day 13 degrees higher than it did on the winter solstice (35 vs 22 degrees above the horizon), and it is now more than half way to its maximum altitude in our summer sky on June 21 (68 degrees).

What does this mean for us winter-weary Minnesotans — spring is ever near! Cardinals and Chickadees are singing up a storm on sunny mornings when the radiant heat of the sun can actually be felt through the chilly (20 F) air. The polar vortex is history, and it’s time to get out and enjoy the end of winter, — like taking a morning walk along the Sucker Lake creek.

This creek connection between Vadnais and Sucker lakes is a popular spot for mallards and Trumpeter Swans because the water is open and flowing all year. Unfortunately, there is nothing at all for the waterfowl to eat here because it has been picked clean over the previous months.
A Trumpeter Swan swimming through the ice chandeliers on the creek…
A pair of mallards takes off right in front of me.
At the north end of Sucker Lake, over 100 Trumpeter Swans swim in a small pool of open water near the inlet.
A mixture of adults and juveniles (brown heads) have been congregating here throughout the winter, spending nights and mornings on the water before flying off to forage in agricultural fields. Toward the end of the winter, swans and other wildlife (e.g., deer) spend more time resting and less time actively foraging, since there is very little left to feed on and whatever is there is probably well-covered by snow. By resting more, they expend less energy and conserve their energy reserves.
Morning nap time…
Last year’s offspring (swans with gray-brown heads and necks) remain with their parents through the winter, and perhaps pick up a few good tips on where to find food during this period.
Mom or Dad Swan tried a new place to look for submergent vegetation, and the youngster follows.
Long necks are definitely good for reaching into tight spaces, and this adult must have been finding something because it kept at it for several minutes.
Taking a break from all the morning’s activities…

7 thoughts on “Mornings along the creek

  1. Beautiful images, Sue. There is always something so elegant about swans. I loved the series of images with the adult swan and younger one. It is touching to see the young swan learning survival skills. Our winter is nowhere near as harsh as yours, but I definitely am looking forward to spring’s arrival. At this very moment it right around the freezing mark and is raining, the perfect recipe for black ice, so I’m staying put in the house.

    • Thanks, Mike. I think harsh winters just make me appreciate the spring thaw that much more. The news said “stay at home” and embrace the winter this year, so I did!!

      • Amen to that. I have really been limiting my forays out of the house this past year to grocery shopping and my photo trips, with a couple of exceptions for outdoor dining with a friend.

  2. These are beautiful photographs of beautiful creatures & their handsome young. The day looks beautiful too. A brilliant late winter day. I hope against hope the bluebirds made it through the vortex.

  3. Thanks so much for your kind comments.

    Such a welcome relief from the negative double digits and wind chill we had in early February. Isn’t it amazing how we adjust so that 20 F and bright sun suddenly feels balmy?!!!

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