A recent message on the Minnesota Ornithological Union's listserv motivated me to put my husband in the Prius and take another drive down-river.
According to the report, the Tundra Swan count at Pool #8 overlook at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Brownsville, MN is up to a spectacular (and noisy) 12,000 birds - along with a couple of dozen White Pelicans, herons, ducks and lots of Bald Eagles. I could hear their "chittering" calls in my head, as we headed south in the Prius.
Along the way, we caught good looks at a "rafter" of Wild Turkeys along State Road 25 near Nelson, Wisconsin.
We arrived at the swan-viewing overlook at 1pm. The early afternoon light was perfect. There were lines of swans as far as the eye could see. The air was full of swan calls. They were "woo woo wooing" up a storm.
Kudos to the ish and Wildlife Service and Army Corps of Engineers. They've done a great job creating the viewing area infrastructure - and managing the river so that it provides a stop-over that's rich with waterfowl food. We spent an hour enjoying the spectacle!
Bald Eagles harassed the swans, ducks and other eagles. The swans pulled up vegetation, preened and bickered, as dozens of visitors watched and marvelled. I practiced my duck identification skills - looking at goldeneyes, teal, Gadwalls, wigeons and pintails.
On the way back we stopped at one of several roadside apple stands in La Crescent. I bought a dozen apples and a gallon of cider.
Bauer Market apple consultant Sue Bott, offered samples.
And yes, I ended my day by baking an apple pie - from scratch (with my favorite buttermilk crust - from the Moosewood cookbook).