Every year the swans that grace the Avon River in Stratford are over-wintered in a special facility just behind the William Allman Arena. Residents of Stratford and area know that spring doesn't truly arrive until the swans are paraded back to the river accompanied by the Stratford Police Pipes and Drums Band - and that happened today at 2pm sharp. The weather was perfect for the event as was evident by the large crowd (5,000 strong, by some estimates) that assembled for the event.
There were 28 traditional white swans in the parade as well as Chinese Geese, an Emperor Goose, a Bar Headed Goose and two black swans - I believe a Canada Goose snuck in there as well.
Once they were on the water their delight at being back on their familiar territory was apparent by much noise and flapping of wings.
To put a perfect cap on the day we were heading back to Woodstock via Harmony Road and Geoff's sharp vision spotted an unusual silhouette on the wires overhead - an American Kestrel! It was a first for both of us - we've seen a Kestrel at Hawk Creek but never in the wild before. At first we thought this was a Peregrine Falcon but on closer inspection of the photo the black vertical stripes on the head became apparent and it would appear that this is a female Kestrel.
Quite a day.