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    Posted May 31, 2014 by
    9898miggs
    Location
    Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Wildlife photography

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    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Maggie Gray does whatever it takes, whether it’s standing in snow, slogging through mud, or trekking in slush, to photograph swans. Due to these rough conditions, she finds herself more often than not photographing swans by herself. The Minnesota resident, which locals have dubbed “Swan Lady,” routinely photographs these birds in all kinds of weather and temperatures. At first, she wanted to be a predatory wildlife photographer, but she explains that she was drawn to swans. 'I'm extremely emotional, and I find my spirit intertwines with the swans when they preen, swirl in passion or chase each other on open water,’ she said. She says when she first started photographing swans she knew nothing about them. ‘I didn’t know the difference between the royal mute swan and the trumpeter swan,’ she explained. But now she has photographed at least seven varieties of swans. Through her photography experience though, she has learned that local swans face many challenges, from being pinioned by their owners to unknowingly living in bodies of water that have runoff chemicals that may harm their health.
    - Jareen, CNN iReport producer

    I am a wildlife photographer that found myself obsessed with predator photography. One day, bored, unable to travel out of country, I passed a small lake and found two Swans floating lazily on the water. I decided why not! So, although they weren't initially happy with my intrusion, over the months an affection grew. Unknown to me was that they were Royal Mute Swans and pinioned - rendered unable to fly - on this lake. Brokenhearted when they were removed by winter, I found exquisite solace at a river location in another State where hundreds of Trumpeters were wintering.

    I now found myself every weekend driving to this nearby state obsessed with the antics, grace and power of these magnificent birds. I am now considered the "Swan Lady" by hundreds and my life has never been the same. I shoot in conditions which are brutal at times, often 20-30 below zero, on the river with just the swans since normal people stay INSIDE. But I've decided if you want to capture their true spirit, you must immerse yourself no matter what the temperature or conditions. I have thousands of Swan images, but this glorious shot was taken on a 25 below zero day in the winter as I sat on the frozen shore with this massive Trumpeter heading straight toward me and shore!

    I am now following some Trumpeters as it is nesting season and will soon have the ultimate photographer's gift - new life of my beloved Swans. I will forever wonder where my adored Royal Mute Swans were removed to - named Isabelle and Ferdinand, as I never found out. I returned to my little lake, a new pair are now there, but Isabelle and Ferdinand are out there, perhaps enthralling others on a new lake, stealing hearts, bringing laughter and joy, taking my heart with them.



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