Monday, December 12, 2016

A mystery on ice.

This morning I was driving south through Washington County on my way to an appointment in Lake Elmo. As I glanced toward Bone Lake, I noticed a trumpeter swan roosting by itself on the snow-covered ice. Since swans are reputed to mate for life, I wondered if it was too young to have mated yet or if its mate had been lost. I also wondered if there was any reasonable explanation I could think of that would explain why it was by itself in, at best, an unusual location. I could think of none.

Bone Lake swan
Bone Lake swan
Photo by J. Harrington

Two hours later I was returning home along the same route. The swan was still sitting on the ice at the north end of the lake. I pulled onto the road's shoulder, turned on the flashers, grabbed my car camera and climbed out. The swan first raised its head and then stood. It didn't walk away nor did it try to fly. I took some photos and got back in the Jeep, still wondering what was going on. I didn't trust the ice enough to even think about approaching the bird. There was no noticeable blood on the snow nor, that I could see, on the bird's feathers. I drove away, assuming, and hoping, that one of the homeowners around the lake will call the DNR if the swan keeps hanging around on the ice. Or, if it's healthy enough, that it will soon head toward the St. Croix River flock(s) or migrate south to wintering grounds.

Bone Lake swan
Bone Lake swan
Photo by J. Harrington

Did you know that the Department of Natural Resources has on-line guidance about what to do regarding Sick, Injured, or Orphaned Wildlife? It includes a list of permitted wildlife rehabilitators by county. [I called one of the local wildlife rehabilitators to report the swan, but got no answer and so left a message.] I don't expect to ever solve the  mystery of the Bone Lake swan, but it's a time of year to hope for happy endings, right?

UPDATE: 12/13/16 The wildlife rehabilitator I contacted called me this morning. She doesn't collect animals, but works on them if they've been delivered. She passed on the information I provided to another group that does "collect" injured or abandoned animals. Sometimes you can just do what you can with fingers crossed.

The Mystery of the Hunt

By Michael McClure

It’s the mystery of the hunt that intrigues me,
                   That drives us like lemmings, but cautiously—
The search for a bright square cloud—the scent of lemon verbena—
                    Or to learn rules for the game the sea otters
                                      Play in the surf.
                  It is these small things—and the secret behind them
                                    That fill the heart.
                        The pattern, the spirit, the fiery demon
                                That link them together
                      And pull their freedom into our senses,
             The smell of a shrub, a cloud, the action of animals
         —The rising, the exuberance, when the mystery is unveiled.
                                 It is these small things
                   That when brought into vision become an inferno.

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