The three "S"s: Swans, Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese

One of the most amazing sights is to see a swan stretch out its wings. Whenever I can spend some time with a swan I will watch it intently, waiting for the moment the beautiful performance unfurls.  Every year swans pass through our valley as they fly north on their migration to their breeding lakes. I was able to spend hours with them as they took a break in local ponds and lakes. After watching them so long I learned to see cues in their behavior that let me know when a photographic moment would occur. I thus have hundreds of reference photographs of these beautiful creatures that will fuel many paintings over the coming years.
This year was the first year I was able to witness thousands of Snow Geese and Sandhill cranes all at once. Due to new access to farmland my wife and I found the stopping over point for these large birds as they headed north.
 At times two to three thousand birds would take off and circle me in what must be one of nature's most epic events. It is an amazing feeling to be in the presence of so many birds and hear and feel their wingbeats. 
One evening I had a perfect vantage point and was able to capture the Sandhill Crane pair-bonding dance in exquisite detail. The graceful lines of this beautiful interaction are sure to find their way into my work.