Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Big Freeze on the Upper Mississippi

After a week of freezing weather, I was very surprised to see Tundra Swans at Rieck's Lake Park yesterday.   We spotted a dozen big white birds sitting on the ice in front of the observation deck.  They were sleeping when we arrived.  They woke up when a flock of Canada Geese honked as they flew by.

It's just a matter of time before the backwaters and main channel of the Upper Mississippi River ice-over.

Looking across Pool 4 from the Jay Hawk Ranch (Nelson, WI)

I went back for another look today.  The Upper Mississippi River at Pool 4 is iced over - covered with strings of resting waterfowl - ducks, geese and Tundra Swans.  This may be the last weekend to see large concentrations of waterfowl on the river.

Despite what the calendar says, when the backwaters are filled with people ice-fishing, winter is here.

The sunny skies have been full of Bald Eagles, soaring along the bluffs and coulees.  It's not unusual to spot them feeding on roadkill along the highways and in fields feeding on deer remains left behind by hunters.

 We spotted hawks on utility poles and along tree lines - lots of Red-tailed Hawks, a couple of Harriers and our first-of-the-season Rough-legged Hawks.

Red-tailed Hawk

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