This article features a selection of photographs illustrating mute swans mating. These images were captured handheld at Hendrie Valley in Burlington Ontario using the E-M1X’s Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking.
All photographs were captured with an M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom lens fitted with the M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter. The lens was fully extended to 800 mm (efov 1600 mm) with the aperture set at f/13. I used C-AF +TR (continuous auto focus plus tracking) with a frame rate of 18 fps.
I used pulse shooting to capture these photographs of mute swans mating, rather than long continuous auto-focus runs. In the first portion of this selection of mute swans mating images you’ll see the male grabbing the neck of the female as he positions himself behind her.
Once the male swan (called a Cob) was properly positioned on the back of the female swan (called a Pen) he released her neck as we can see in the following photograph.
As seen in the photograph above, the Cob then rode on the Pen’s back as she paddled on the surface of the pond for a little while.
I was able to capture some interesting head and neck positions of the mute swans mating. I found these images emoted a sense of affection and tenderness. Here are three sample photographs.
Towards the end of the mute swans mating behaviour the Cob pushed down on the neck and head of the Pen until he forced her head underwater. This behaviour is illustrated in the next four photographs.
I have witnessed ducks exhibiting this same type of forced underwater behaviour. Some of the reference material I read suggested that this behaviour coincides with the transfer of the Cob’s sperm. I could not find consistent confirmation of this so I do not know if this is indeed factual.
Given that these mute swans mating were quite distant from my shooting position i.e. from 133.6 metres to 153.4 metres (~438 feet to 503 feet) away, and that I had to use an aperture of f/13 at ISO-3200, I was pleased with these photographs.
Whenever I’m able to capture uncommon behaviours of birds and animals I feel that Mother Nature has given me a special glimpse into her realm.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced using my standard process. After running my RAW files through DxO PhotoLab 4 using one of my custom pre-sets, I made some minor adjustments in PhotoShop CS6 and the Nik Collection. My final step was using Topaz Sharpening AI. Crops are indicated. This is the 1,112 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.
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2 thoughts on “Mute Swans Mating”
Very interesting, Tom.
I hope you were discreet….
Absolutely I remained a discreet 133.6 metres away from the swans at all times 🙂