Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mute Swans and Clearing Storm at Dawson Lake, Sierra Foothills

Another storm came through this morning, one of half a dozen this month that have dropped five inches of rain on the valley floor. That's not a complaint, not in the least. The drought remains, and every drop counts. We are actually ahead of normal rainfall and snowpack for the first time in five years.
The sun came out in the late afternoon, so we ran up the road to Dawson Lake near La Grange in the Sierra Nevada foothills. It was windy and cold as the last of the storm clouds drifted away, so not many birds were out and about. There were two Mute Swans (Cygnus olor, which translates to "swan - swan") on the lake.
Mute Swans are the birds of legend and myth in Europe and Asia, but they are not native to North America. They were brought here in the 1880s for the "enhancement" of ponds and gardens. Many escaped, and they have spread to various localities across the country. Because of their voracious appetites and aggressive nature, they have displaced native birds, including some rare and endangered species.
Just the same, there are just two of them at Dawson Lake, and they are graceful beautiful birds. They were a very nice complement to the rippling lake waters and setting sun. The storms are clearing out, for now.

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