Monday, January 18, 2010

Photo Mission: Tundra Swans

It started as just a daytrip. An afternoon with my wife doing something that we both could enjoy. The weather was to provide a large hurtle. No photo walks as the wind was blowing at 50-60 Mph and the temps we only climbing up to 28 degrees. A search of the internet and I finally found a photo forum for New Jersey. A place not far from home, out on the cranberry bogs call Whites Bog and the winter inhabitants… Tundra Swans. Little did we suspect that there would be such a challenge. First finding the place. The directions  on the website looked so straight forward, but they were anything but. The 30 minute drive turned into a 1.5 hour. When we finally arrived it was late in the and the beginnings of the golden  hours. We literally  drove out on the bogs, on “roads” no wider then our car. The roads had once been mud, but with the temperatures out they were frozen stiff. The car path out through the ponds had been marked out by a local Boy scout camp and consisted of small red arrows on sticks. the boWhites Bog Pemberton, NJ 006gs were frozen over and the wind raged over the open water, bringing the wind chill down into the minus zero range. We drove the path for a while seeing nothing but frozen lakes, leafless trees and blue sky. Then while crossing a causeway between two of the largest bogs, I glanced right and Whites Bog Pemberton, NJ 017 there they were, just as my research had shown. In the middle of a nearly frozen lake, in the possibly 20 feet of open water in the dead middle of the lake, were about 14 swans, faces pointed into the wind, floating on the surface of the water. I go out, grabbed my camera bag and went for my largest lens. That's when the wind hit me. My fingers freezing instantly. I shrunk down beside my car trying to use it to Whites Bog Pemberton, NJ 037 block the wind. I started to shiver. Telephoto lens and shaking are the worst of combinations. Then they saw me. Even though I was over 200 yards away, they got nervous. Their heads shifted left and right in rhythm. Then the honking began. The wings started to lightly flap, then as one they took to the air, swirling around the lake several times, then forming a straight line, they did a wonderful thing, they Whites Bog Pemberton, NJ 041flew directly overhead. They were a wonder to see flying by. The largest birds I have ever seen airborne, gliding thru the air so  gracefully, yet struggling with each wing beat to gain elevation as the flew directly into the blowing wind. Off into the distance they went searching out a new, safer, place to spend the night. Back in the car we started our way out of the bogs. We got one more look at the swans as they settledWhites Bog Pemberton, NJ 047 in for the night. The sun was starting to set and it was time to say goodbye to the land of frozen bogs, bare trees and the beautiful Tundra Swans. Then we continued to enter a forested area. I came upon a puddle in the middle of the road. deciding not to just drive through it I got out and found a rock to throw onto the ice to see how firm it was. The ice broke ( about 2 inches of it) and there was a large sloosh of water. It appeared that the puddle was at least 2 foot or more deep. Soooooo…. I followed a “path” through the trees, looking at my GPS for a near by road. When we got to the road we were across the road from two artillery ranges in Fort Dix.  Across the base and back on route 70 westbound, sun setting in the rearview mirror, heading home. We got the shots we set out to get. Sim got a few beauties by shooting through her binoculars to get the reach she wanted. An inovention that she came up with on the spur of the moment. Photos gotten, and a refreshing day by my wife and I was enjoyed.

Mission: Tundra Swans was accomplished!!!