Disposable Camera Tour
The Swans of Winter
are used to seeing swans in Great
Bay, but this frigid winter week they were flocking around the South
End of Portsmouth. Spotters counted up to 50 birds who have moved
closer to the mouth of the Piscataqua as their home waters have been
freezing up as far as Adamís Point on Great Bay. Amateur
photographers Norm OíNeill and Louise Giordani found this group
nosing around for food outside their house with the temperature
hovering at zero degrees and a wind chill factor at Ė20. Neighbors
had been offering the swans, and accompanying ducks, up to 100
pounds of cracked corn a day.
We checked with the NH Fish and Game Department
to see why these guys donít head somewhere warmer for the winter.
Eric Orff told us that the Seacoast swans are descended from birds
kept as pets and have lost their instinct to fly further than their
home region. Like the ducks, they donít mind winter, but range
further in winter in search of food and unfrozen habitat.
There are thousands of swans, Orff says, along the New England
coastline. Not a protected species, they are popular with residents
and tourists, but troublesome to the environment. The swans dig up
eelgrass, kill ducks that come within their two-acre territory and
have been known to attack admirers. The male, or cob, will literally
attack a canoe, crashing into it, if angered during the spring
mating season. The population is currently monitored and kept at a
minimum through "birth control" according to Orff, without which the
species could quickly grow to hundreds, even thousands of birds, he
VISIT: Eric Orff's web
VISIT: Great Bay web
All photos by Norman O'Neil and Louise Giordani
Copyright © 2004 SeacoastNH.com. All rights reserved.
Tours / Historic
Sites / History