Seemingly Surreal Swallows in a Spring Snowstorm

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Though it was an exceptionally cold winter and spring, a snowstorm in Mid-may is unheard of here. Unfortunately, a large group of recently-arrived migrating Tree Swallows got caught in the storm and had to hunker down on the tree branches overlooking the Yukon River, and wait it out. I feared the worst would happen during the 24 hour storm, and was worried sick that they would die from exhaustion as a result of their long journey from Central America, a lack of food as there were no flying insects, strong winds and sub-zero temperatures. I returned the next morning and found no dead birds, so presumably most had survived. They seemed to go into a state of semi-torpor (slow metabolism) and huddled (see note) to conserve energy, a strategy that apparently worked.

 

As surreal as it appears, this shot is pretty much straight out of the camera with a few contrast, vibrance and saturation adjustments in CS5. The green bokeh is courtesy of the deep green colour of the Yukon River in the spring. Eventually, this photo and others, along with the story, attracted significant international media attention. See my narrative www.flickr.com/photos/keithmwilliams/6401859531/in/photos...

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Taken on May 12, 2011
  • ƒ/6.3
  • 500.0 mm
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  • 125
  • Flash (off, did not fire)
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