March is here, which means warmer weather, clearer skies, and a chance of swans! As we watch this winter’s accumulation of snow melt, an epic journey is taking place right over our heads.
Thousands of tundra swans are travelling through southern Ontario on a 6,500 km flight from Chesapeake Bay to nest in the Canadian Arctic. Not, however, without making a stop in Lambton County for food and rest.
The swans and an array of other waterfowl will stay at The Old Thedford Bog behind the Lambton Heritage Museum, eight kilometres south of Grand Bend. The spot attracts the feathery travellers when the spring thaw floods local farmland and uncovers a buffet of corn and beans left behind from the previous year’s harvest.
To celebrate this spectacular event the museum hosts The Return of the Swans Festival from March 8 to March 30. There will be exhibits and activities for the whole family. Visitors can also catch the Paint Ontario Art Competition and Sale from March 8 to March 30, and the Ipperwash Maple Syrup Festival from March 15-16, and 22-23.
Gwen Watson, who has worked at the museum for 30 years, says she has seen anywhere between 4 and 15,000 swans in any given year. “There were over 11,000 swans last year,” she says, adding that the event is especially memorable when both sides of the bog flood, as swans can be seen overhead passing between feeding grounds.
After a late start, the swans have begun to arrive by the hundreds in north Lambton, and there have been sightings to the south along the Detroit River.
Get out your binoculars and listen for the distinct honking and “who-ing” sound of the tundra swans!
To find out how many swans have landed, visit the Festival’s website at www.returnoftheswans.com. Here users can find directions to the museum and a calendar that will be updated daily.
Abby Somers is a Sarnia-based writer at Wordsmith's Press with an interest in community and local events.