High wild swan numbers wow veteran birdwatcher
The annual migration of wild swans through the region brought the largest numbers ever seen by longtime Mountain View County resident Norm Lissel.
Lissel, a retired farmer who has been watching the annual migration since 1959, took photos in mid-April of swans spread over an 80-acre parcel situated five miles northwest of Olds.
“There were hundreds – close to a thousand, or even more. Just unbelievable,” Lissel said.
In previous years, he said, the maximum number of swans visiting the same parcel each spring was about 150 or, at most, 200.
The birds, which include both tundra and trumpeter swans, moved on after a day or two.
Lissel said both he and his wife Thelma enjoy watching the arrival of the graceful birds.
“Thelma, she’s a real birder. Usually she takes the pictures,” Lissel said.
In March, CBC reported that North America’s “wonky winter” forced some bird populations to flock much farther afield this year and that tundra swans, which normally winter in the southern U.S., were among the birds reported in unusually high numbers in Canada during this year’s annual Great Backyard Bird Count.
Nearly 17 times more tundra swans were reported by Canadian participants this year than last year, said Bird Studies Canada.