April 7--Visited Magee Marsh to conduct preliminary tests to determine the suitability of this area for a release site. The area appears to have more than ample food and plenty of possible nesting sites. We collected water and soil samples. Among other things, we will test for levels of lead in the soil and water that may exist from old shotgun pellets.
April 17--We received the results from the lab and the area looks perfect for our release site. We will release 14 birds the first week of May. All the birds will have neck and leg bands, and we will follow them as best we can.
May 6--14 trumpeter swans were released about 11:00a.m. The birds immediately swam away from the shore and went into the wetlands. About two hours later, we observed four birds swimming in the open and foraging for food. No more birds were found this day.
May 8--A great day for finding birds. We found two different groups with four birds in each group. We also observed two different pairs swimming on their own. They were away from the other birds, slowly swimming and feeding. We must watch and see if these birds continue to act as pairs and establish territories.
May 14--Today we observed both pairs of swans defending territories. Not only did they chase away the other swans, but they were observed chasing Canada geese. It appears that both pairs have established territories and we must now try to find the nesting sites. There are numerous good nesting possibilities in their areas.
May 20--today we can only find the male in each pair of swans. It would appear that the females are either laying or already incubating. We should not cause too much disturbance by trying to locate the nests, as we do not want them to abandon the site and move somewhere else.
June 10--We have found one of the nest sites and cannot find the other. The nest is a large mound of vegetation in an area of cattails. We will continue to monitor this site, but it may be too close to land.
June12--We had reports that both sexes of one of the pairs were seen swimming in the marsh. This disturbs us, as we believe it is too early for their eggs to hatch. We went to the nest site and found that a predator (probably a raccoon or fox) had disturbed the nest and we found eggshell fragments. It appears that one or two of the eggs were rotten, but there were blood and tissue fragments in some eggs, indicating fertility.
June 22--Today we observed the remaining pair in the marsh with 5 cygnets. All the cygnets were close to the parents and they were feeding along the shoreline. The parents appear to be doing a fine job of protecting them, and we will continue to observe.
June 25--Only four cygnets were found today. The most probable culprit is a snapping turtle. I would be surprised if a bird or mammal predator would battle two adults. A large fish is also a possibility.
August 18--The three cygnets continue to grow and very soon will be as large as their parents. They are spending more time further away from their parents, but at the first sign of disturbance, they quickly form into a small group.
October 18--We had our first frost, and the water plants are starting to turn brown and die. When the water starts to freeze, the swans will leave with their parents, and we will have to try to get sightings further south.