There is no way to know for certain what experiences are currently cementing themselves as childhood memories for our children, but if I had to make a guess I’d say the daily cruise past Potter Marsh is something they will miss when they grow up and move away. Especially Maggie. Whatever the season, she presses her little nose to the car window and scopes the water for muskrats, moose, ducks, gulls, geese, terns, and – as of late – swans.
We are currently in the midst of the fall migration of the giant Trumpeter Swans. They are enormous birds whose 7 foot wingspans surpass the height of the average NBA player. Even with their hollow bones, they weigh in at over 20 lbs. apiece. And there are hundreds of them passing through Potter Marsh right now. We drive past the marsh on our daily commute to school and work, and there are typically 40-50 of these beautiful birds floating or flying or feeding at any given time.
Maggie isn’t the only swan spectator out there. Photographers line the highway like paparazzi these days, and our Trumpeter Swans are the celebrities. Our extreme weather never makes national news, but our swan migration captured some headlines. AP journalist Dan Joling said it best: “The birds stand out like marshmallows on a patchwork quilt in the narrow, two-mile urban marsh between the Seward Highway and foothills of the Chugach Mountains. Photographers line up for a calendar shot of swans flying against a background of golden birch trees or making long glides to land among reeds turned tan from frost.”
I’m not a journalist or a photographer, but I am one of the lucky folks who drives along Potter Marsh on a daily basis and actually remembered to bring along a camera (other than the one on my cell phone) this week. Here are a few of my shots:
Okay, maybe it’s not quite paparazzi, but it’s an animal jam over birds none-the-less. Pretty cool.