So many people come to Cape Cod to go to our salt water beaches they forget or don’t know that we are also a great place to go exploring around or in ponds. We have over 300 of them, most of them called kettle ponds because they are kettle holes left behind by the glacier that formed us thousands of years ago. The holes were deep enough to hit the water level and filled with water, hence their name.
On a sunny morning you might find a spot where swans rest at night, filled with white feathers….
The elegant swans may still be nearby….
You may see a big old bullfrog watching for flies….check out his bright yellow chin, a dead giveaway that this is a male…..
And if you look into the water really closely you may see something like this….a giant pickerel, still as a log, hiding under a patch of algae. Click on the picture to really see it–it is quite well camouflaged. Pickerels are amazing predators and this one had its eye on a nearby sunfish nest….
Did you ever wonder where all the swans go in the winter when all the ponds ice over?They find open water on our rivers that remain open because there is so much salt water at the beginning of the estuary. As you know, salt water can freeze but it takes much longer. This picture, taken by and sent in to me by Linda Robbins of Falmouth, was taken at the Moonakis River in Falmouth this weekend. (Thanks, Linda!)
Swans eat vegetable matter, not fish, by the way, which is why they are often bottoms up, feeding on water plants on the bottom of shallow lakes and ponds. Usually swans are not overly friendly to other birds, including other swans in their territories but at this time of year survival seems to win out over territorial rights. You will even find mallards and Canada geese among them, something you will never see in the spring or summer.
There are several other areas on the Cape where you can find hundreds of swans in winter, most notably Swan River in South Yarmouth. Bet you can guess how it got that name….
Look who had their babies this week! Baby ducks are called ducklings and baby geese are goslings. Do you know what baby swans are called?
This lovely family is at the Smiling Pool at the Thornton Burgess Society in East Sandwich. Both the male and female swan look after the little ones. There are many predators in and around the pond that would love to eat a little swan for dinner so the parents are very protective. If a swan hisses or swims toward you, back away! A swan can break a man’s arm if it is angry and close enough. These babies are so little that the parents are bringing them very close to shore to feed. Sometimes you’ll see the parents pulling up greenery from the bottom so the little ones can feed on the surface. In another few weeks the little ones will be able to poke their heads and necks around under the water just like their parents but for now they need a little help.
The family is ready to move on now.