Monday, November 2, 2009

Alma Swans

Tundra Swans have arrived near Riecks Lake Park.

According to the message on the swan hotline, they arrived on Halloween.  But don't expect to see them from the observation deck yet. 

The first 14 swans to hit the Buffalo River wetlands are 3.7 miles east on State Rd 37 (turn left just south of Reicks Lake, then start looking for them past the dairy farm - in the Lake at Tell (before the left turn to County Road II).  They're way out there (see below - a photo of the two swans at the top of this page taken with a "normal" 50mm lens).

Every fall, fewer and fewer swans stop-over in Alma.   Ducks and geese are still using the wetlands, but if you want to see the spectacle - thousands of swans and their noise - you'll have to head down the Mississippi River.   Last week there were hundreds at Weaver Bottoms and further down the River at Pool 8 south of Brownsville (MN).  

Brownsville is the "hot spot" - where the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Geological Survey, Wisconsin and Minnesota DNRs, Minnesota Pollution control Agency and Army Corps of Engineers have been working together  to construct new islands to maintain and re-establish aquatic plant beds (swan food) and the deepwater habitat they need for resting.

If you drive down - look for the big parking area on the river side of the Great River Road (Highway 26).

When weather permits, the Fish & Wildlife Service conducts a weekly flyover of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge,  starting at Lake Pepin, then south including Pools 2-14 and Trempealeau NWR.  They post a list of what they've spotted at the Refuge website.

If you head over to the observation deck at Riecks Lake park, you will get close looks at ducks, geese and coots; but swans - not yet.  Also absent at the deck - the local volunteers who in past years have cheerfully pointed out the birds and answered questions. 

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