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'What happens in Sibera stays in Siberia...unless it is covered by The Siberian Times'

The breathtaking real-life Swan Lake in Siberia

09 January 2014

These stunning images were taken by Russian photographer Alexander Tyryshkin on a unique Siberian lake that never freezes, no matter how cold the winter.

Locals say the first swans appeared here in 1967, and only 15 birds were recorded then. Now they number 350 annually with the numbers rising each year. Picture: Alex Tyryshkin

Most Whooper Swans fly much further south in search of a less harsh climate, but as the pictures show, January finds this stunning spot teeming with activity.

Its real name Svetloe Lake but to many locals it is known, not surprisingly, as Swan Lake. The nearby village - appropriately - is called Urozhainoe, which means 'Prolific'. 

'It was minus 30C when I was taking pictures of the swans', said Alexander, 30, who lives and works in this part of Siberia. 

'Svetloe' is a very special lake, fed by many warm springs that keep the water always above zero. Even when the air goes down to minus 40C, the water in the lake stays at around plus 5C or 6C.

'The name 'Svetloe' means 'Clear Lake' and the the waters are pristine and so transparent you can see all the way down to its depths. There are only two places in Russia where these Whooper Swans come for winter. This lake in Altai and another in the Anadyr district of Chukotka in the extreme east of the country. 

'These snow-white swans land here every December, though it is a fair recent phenomenon. 

Swan lake Siberia


Swan lake Siberia


Swan lake

People from the nearby village are very proud to have their own Swan Lake and treat the birds with enormous care and respect, and in return have the most rewarding swan songs (the bird is famous for its deep honking call) and the joy of watching them fly. Pictures: Alex Tyryshkin

'Locals say the first swans appeared here in 1967, and only 15 birds were recorded then. Now they number 350 annually with the numbers rising each year. 

'The birds leave for nesting to the northern polar areas of Siberia in March, and come back here with their young some nine months later. 

'Whooper Swans are extra cautious birds. They need calm and quiet, so the access of people to the lake to see this remarkable sight is limited. 

'There is a special viewing point ten meters high with a panoramic view of the lake, built in a way that it doesn't disturb the birds. 

'There are also several floats designed specially for feeding the swans - they allow you to see these spectacular birds from a closer distance. 

Swan lake Siberia


Swan lake Siberia


Swan lake Siberia

Whooper Swans are extra cautious birds, needing calm and quiet, so the access of people to the lake to see this remarkable sight is limited. Pictures: Alex Tyryshkin

'People from the nearby village are very proud to have their own Swan Lake and treat the birds with enormous care and respect, and in return have the most rewarding swan songs (the bird is famous for its deep honking call) and the joy of watching them fly. 

'The Altai Region authorities protect Svetloe Lake as a part of the Swans' State Wildlife Preserve, which also acts as a big resting zone for hunting birds and animals during the hunting period. There is a team of keepers ensuring the non-stop feeding and security for all birds and animals. 

'The Whooper Swans are not the only birds to winter here. 

'Around 2,000 ducks also spend the coldest months with the swans - including the Mallard, the Goldeneye, the Redhead and the Tufted ducks, two kinds of Teals and Northern Pintails. Even the Grey Goose joins the flock'. 

Swan Lake Siberia


Swan Lake Siberia

*See Alex Tyryshkin's profile on The Siberian Times

Comments (1)

Absolutely breathtaking and amazing...despite the cold it looks like heaven to me!! It is very gratifying to hear the people love and respect these beautiful birds.
Marion Ambler, Vancouver, BC, Canada
12/01/2014 23:48
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