swans

Swans hunker down when a chilly wind picks up on a snow-covered field northwest of Menan Buttes on Saturday.

It was one of those magical wildlife moments that happen occasionally outdoors.

I was out walking with Julie in the Deer Creek Wildlife Mitigation Unit west of Menan Buttes. Our goal was to see trumpeter swans, lots of them.

“I don’t see anything,” Julie said as she stumbled over hard-packed snow.

“Look up,” I said.

A quartet of large, long-necked swans whispered through the air perhaps a hundred feet above. With white clouds in the background and a faint sun shining from the south, they seemed like ghosts passing by. They talked in muted, conspiratorial honks as if they didn’t want us eavesdropping on their conversation.

“Oh! That is so cool!” Julie said. “That just made my day.”

As if they heard the compliment, dozens of other swans poured across the sky in separate packs — four here, six there, then some as many as two dozen. The groups flew about a half mile to the south and landed in a field of grain planted by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The birds were intent on gleaning the fields, loading up before heading north to Canadian nesting grounds.

Fish and Games sources said there have been as many as 3,000 swans stopping over at Deer Park in the past week as they migrate north. That number represents close to a fourth of the Rocky Mountain population. Swans must be passing the word that there’s an easy snack to be had. As temperatures warm, the swans are not expected to stick around long.

Speaking of snacks, we drove back to Idaho Falls and had Mexican food.

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Although the snow is disappearing here in town, there’s plenty in the ski areas and on cross-country ski trails. Harriman State Park and other Island Park trails are still in good condition.

We have the best of both worlds with climbing crags opening up on sunny days and ski trails as an option on other days.

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Tonight is the Filmed By Bike film festival put on by Idaho Falls Community Pathways along with Idaho Walk Bike Alliance at 6 p.m. at The Waterfront at Snake River Landing, 1220 Event Center Drive. The showing will include 16 short films totaling two hours on all things bike.

Tickets for the Idaho Falls show are $15 and can be purchased at idahowalkbike.brownpapertickets.com.

If you miss that showing (or just want to see them again), go to the Romance Theater in Rexburg at 7 p.m. March 21. That showing is a fundraiser for the Upper Valley Mountain Bike Teams high school mountain bike teams of Madison, Sugar-Salem, North Fremont and South Fremont.

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A sure sign of spring is the plowing of the Teton Park Road in Grand Teton National Park. The park announced that it will begin plowing the road on Monday and that the road will be closed to all users until further notice.

Skiers and snowshoers can use the area adjacent to the roadway. After the road is plowed, it will be open to pedestrians, cyclists, roller skating, walking and leashed pets until the road opens to cars on May 1.

The Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center will open April 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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