Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Visit To Magness Lake

For years I've been wanting to drive to Magness Lake which is near Heber Springs, Arkansas. I always put it off. It's either too cold or the weather is bad during the three months of winter that I need to go. You see, each winter there is a most unusual occurrence at Magness Lake. Trumpeter swans arrive from the north and winter on this small bow-shaped lake. What is so unusual about that, you ask. We are The Natural State after all. Normally trumpeter swans live in the Midwest, Alaska, and even Wyoming, but never as far south as Arkansas. In 1990 three swans showed up at the lake, seemed to like it, and returned each year bringing their extended family. What began as a small group on one lake, now numbers about 500 who winter on several Arkansas lakes.

Did I see 500? NO!    100? NO!    50? NO!   Don't laugh but I waited too late in the season to go and there were only three left on the lake. I didn't do enough research and most of them had already migrated north. I was pretty disappointed that the lake wasn't covered with swans. Thank goodness for those three! I would have been VERY disappointed to travel that distance and see none.

Trumpeter swans are massive, the largest waterfowl species native to North America. They weigh about thirty pounds with up to an eight-foot wingspan. The adult birds are solid white, except for their beaks and feet. The younger ones are gray in color.

The whole time I was there dad kept a vigilant watch over the young one and the mother. I wondered if dad was waiting until the younger one was a little stronger before heading north.

Mom and youngster spent most of their time feeding, but not dad. I only saw him duck below the water one time for a bite too eat!

I kind of felt sorry for the other waterfowl on the lake. There were hundreds of them, but they just didn't get the attention of the swans. For one thing, they were small and stayed a little further out. I don't know much about water fowl, but I believe these are ring-necked ducks. 

I spent quite a bit of time there; watching the swans and taking way too many photos that I now have to sort through! Although it was very windy and cold, it was peaceful. Honestly, what could be more peaceful than watching graceful waterfowl on a beautiful lake. I have made a note to myself on my calendar to go see the swans in November, December or January, not February. I want to see a lake full of them next time.


  1. What a great and serene place that must be, lovely photos indeed.

  2. Photos turned out great. I really like the little ducks. They were so cute.

  3. So interesting! I wonder if I'll see any Trumpeter Swans when I go to Alaska this summer. If I do, I'll be sure to tip them off about your lake.

  4. That was so nice reading about the Trumpeter Swans, Cathy. I like the elegance of their black beaks. You'll certainly have something to look forward to next season to catch a lake full of swans. That must be wonderful. I especially like your second shot of mother, baby and father.

  5. Aren't they pretty. I always love to see birds duck under the water with butt in the air.

  6. How beautiful! Hope you manage to get there earlier next winter- I'm sure 500 of these birds would be spectacular :)

  7. Hey three is better than none in my book. We have some up north at a place we like to go hiking. You got some great photos of them.

  8. Such tranquility and beauty. I didn't know gray was a young swans coloring. I love the photo of the three of them together. It looks chilly there.

  9. Those are definitely ring-necked ducks, and according to my bird book, they are "uncommon, usually in small flocks on wooded freshwater ponds." The ones in your photo are all males in their breeding plumage...I wonder where their "women" are! The swans are lovely, and how nice that you captured a little family group. I'd say the trip was worthwhile - and will be looking forward to next year's excursion.


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