November 2017 Field Note by Susan Vernon

Arrival of the Swans

On November 2, a friend calls to tell me the swans are back. … It is exhilarating to hear the swans’ bugling calls, and then to watch a flock materialize as flecks of white light in a slate gray sky. …


The swan’s arrival signals winter is at hand. The San Juan Islands are the end point of a 2,000-mile flight from their summer nesting grounds in Alaska. … As November progresses, more trumpeters splash down in marshes, lakes, and ponds throughout the archipelago, remaining all winter, enjoying a security nearly lost to them decades ago [when they had a close call with extinction].

Excerpted from Rainshadow World: A Naturalist’s Year in the San Juan Islands, pp. 169-70, © 2010 by Susan Vernon. Used with permission.