Every winter for some years now, hundreds of swans have been flying southwards to Svetloe Lake in the Altai Region of Siberia. Because of the warm springs that feed this Lake, the water never freezes, and in fact it is said to never go below 5°C no matter what the surrounding air temperature is.
The lake water may be warm enough, but the winter temperatures here are well below freezing! These preening swans are doing what needs to be done to keep the cold at bay: feather care. By spreading the oil produced by their uropygial glands, the swans keeps their feathers waterproofed and in good condition.
Even in temperatures of -25°C to -40°C, visitors come to watch the swans and hear their loud honking. But in the chilly hours before and after sunrise in late February this year, the only visitors were me and a small group of Russian photographer friends.