Whooper Swans

If the raptors are the majestic birds of Hokkaido, I reckon the Whooper Swans would be the comic relief. They sound like the entire brass section of an orchestra that can’t quite get itself in tune, or a whole bunch of party horns, all being hooted at varying decibels.

We are on the edge of Lake Kussharo in Akan National Park, Eastern Hokkaido. Along this shore are several outdoor hot springs and we are photographing from a sand beach with naturally heated sand and hot ground water. I can understand why the swans come here – it’s warm. Beside us is a large tourist store playing Jazz, which is kinda surreal, but also weirdly appropriate.

Our tour guide brings bread and runs up and down the beach trying to get the swans to follow in flight. They are graceful swimmers, and flyers, but their take-off and landing procedures are hilarious and they look like giant clowns with their big black webbed feet flapping, and skidding on the ice and water.

Once again I am enchanted by the shape of wings in flight, and how the sun behind them makes them appear translucent.

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