Friday, 24 December 2010
River Spey with Snow and Swans
The River Spey in Strathspey is wide and fast. It doesn’t freeze easily and even after three weeks of mostly below freezing temperatures the river is still running strongly with ice confined to the margins and quiet pools and eddies. The water is dark, flashing silver when it catches the light, but the rocks that break the surface and the reeds and grasses in the shallows by the banks are white with hoar frost and snow. The banks are wooded and the leafless trees are also snow covered. Underfoot the snow crunches and the paths are only visible as tunnels running through the woods. Out on the water whooper swans drifted with the current or stood on patches of ice and rocks. I heard them calling before I saw them, a high trumpeting that gives them their name. A dozen or more were on the river and their calls grew much louder when four more wheeled overhead, their huge wings beating slowly. A tiny movement attracted my attention away from the great white birds – a tiny dipper, plumped out against the cold, bobbing on a rock, watching the swirling water. Also on the river were mallard ducks, paddling sedately in a calm backwater, then clambering out onto an ice floe. With the lakes freezing over and the hard frost continuing water birds need the open water of the rivers.
Photo Info: Top: the River Spey at Grantown-on-Spey; bottom: whooper swans on the River Spey, December 23, 2010. Sony NEX-5, Sony 18-55 lens@18 & 55mm, 1/200 & 1/160@f8, ISO 200, raw files processed in Lightroom 3.