We were walking along the St. Croix River north of town and heard a strange sound. It was soon obvious what we were hearing. A trumpeter swan was leading five white swans down river. Their constant honking could be heard a half mile downriver. I wondered where they were heading. It was late for their migration south.
After some investigation, I learned they were wintering on the Willow River and the St. Croix River at Hudson. What a sight it was. On one cold morning, I counted almost 150 swans on the north end of Hudson River Park along with a few geese and ducks. Sometimes it pays to follow the leader. If I had not, I would have missed the sight. Apparently, they have been wintering there for years and I had not noticed them.
Trumpeter swans are huge birds. They are the heaviest of the large birds in the area. Like the geese, they mate for life. While we were watching the swans, they would fly off only to head back in a short time later. It was a magnificent sight. This morning, the temperature was 8 degrees. Many of the swans were sleeping on the ice while the rest we splashing in the cold water. Nature does a better job of preparing them with fluffy feathers for the cold season than it does for humans. I wondered if the fluffy feathers acted like sound proofing as well. If I thought geese were noisy, no one was going to sleep next to this group.
On the way back, we noticed a large number of icehouses on the river. It looked as though half of the populations from Stillwater and Bayport moved on to the frozen river. Riverfront property comes cheap this time of year, but you must be sure the ice will hold you.
I’m not sure if the fish were biting on the river or not. However, Johnathan Kellogg sent me a picture of his family’s fishing skills on Lily Lake last week. He and his daughter Adison caught a number of fish including a few of good size northern and rock bass.
Sometimes, it is better luck not to follow the others. I’m not sure the river was providing any better fishing.
Text and photo by David Fabio.
David Fabio is a local author and nature photographer. His latest book, “Water Pressure,” can be reviewed at www.davidfabio.com.