Had our first outdoor Barbecue today! Also had our first Great Blue Heron visit the oxbow, saw another huge flock of Tundra swans moving across the sky, Ice on the river is disappearing at last. Saw American white pelicans out there the other day. The oxbow is still mostly ice. The sandhill cranes were out the other day poking around in their traditional nesting area, but since the cranes still seem to be going about in pairs, I don’t think they are nesting yet. I normally see them on their nest by April 5, with hatching about May 5 or so. Spring is finally in the air.
Swans are also crowding a small swath of open water near the 2nd wayside south of Goose Island, Hwy 35 So. out of La Crosse. With so little open water on the river, the Swans are more abundant this spring, and clustered within easy viewing distance on Hwy 35.
Track exactly where the group is today…
LIVE GPS tracking: (copy & Paste into browser)http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0mPHV4igHadEVfpSyKWhmaoe1egzqco2g
Schedule for the Walk (save this as a possible route for walking the entire length of the Mississippi River. This schedule presumes walking 25-30 miles per day.
The group also has a FACEBOOK page.
I spent some time searching out information on the Ojibwa “Healing the River” walk yesterday. Thought it might interest others, so I’ve included my links in the next entry. Contemplating their walk prompted me to have a look at the charts and plan my own walk along the river. I chose to walk a mile above and below the Brownsville, Minnesota, birding overlook… and was rewarded by seeing several large flights of TUNDRA SWANS land directly opposite the overlook!!
They are not just at the overlook, however, but there seems to be a cluster just beyond several small islands just north of the overlook. They were not in the water, but standing or sleeping in the snow beside any open water…so look carefully!
Also abundant eagles, diving ducks, a pileated woodpecker! Walking along sparkling, open water when it is still cold and snowy is the next best thing to spring!!
For those who have noticed our promotion of our new line of historic OLD PACIFIC NORTHWEST maps, we are pleased to introduce our Map Artist, Lisa Middleton! Lisa’s home base is Kalispell, Montana. We are pleased to note that her art was recently designated as a “Made in Montana” brand. This is a juried brand that carries a great deal of prestige for artists in the Northwest. Congratulations, Lisa!!
Many of Lisa’s maps of the old Pacific Northwest were produced by Cartographer, John Bartholomew, a significant Cartagrapher from 1831-1893. Bartholomew learned his trade from his own father. His son, John George Bartholomew (1860-1920) brought the firm to prominence. Eventually five generations were involved in the company trade. This Edinburgh, Scotland, map company produced a series of detailed American state maps which become even more stunning when painted by Lisa Middleton.
Lisa’s current collection includes many Bartholomew maps of the west produced in the 1870s to 1890s. The Lake Erie, Montana, and Idaho maps were all originally published by John Bartholomew. We recognize them because the “Scale of Miles” is in “English Miles.” Maps may be labeled “Bartholomew,” “John Bartholomew, or “Bartholmew and Company.”
Lisa will be presenting her product to Western retailers at the “Made in Montana” show in Great Falls, Montana, March 20-22. Please do drop by and see this fresh historic map product! See all her Mississippi River and historic Pacific Northwest maps at www.greatriver.smugmug.com/Art.
Please click link to view our JANUARY newsletter from Great River Arts. Lisa has featured a number of brand new hand-painted historic maps from her Gallery, as well as several new book releases from Great River Publishing.
What a great match OLD TIME RAILROAD STORIES will be for our new MONTANA RAILWAYS historic map and our travel reviews of CLASSIC TRAIN JOURNEYS along great rivers in Canada, Alaska, and Europe.
With the river well frozen in most spots, January becomes and ideal time for American Bald Eagle watching on the Upper Mississippi River. Best spots for viewing are generally at the open water just below each of the Dams between Lake Pepin and St. Louis. But eagles will be found in trees, certain farm fields, and clustered–often in dozens or even hundreds–at any bit of ice where there is open water.
This week end, 1-25-2013, in Clarksville Missouri is Eagle Days an educational program hosted by the Missouri Department of Conservation. On Tuesday I counted 59 eagles from the Visitor Center in Clarksville. Clarksville was the first hosting site for the Eagle Days program starting back in ;the early 80′s when there were no nesting pairs in the state. Now there are between 100 to 200 nest in the state of Missouri. I hope everyone gets a chance to come see the eagles.
UPCOMING 2013 FESTIVALS: Prairie du Chien, WI, February 23.
Find more about EAGLES on the MISSISSIPPI by Search our Birding Categories, to the right, or by searching greatriver.com.
My American Queen friends from the early November Upper Mississippi River cruise will recognize this heavy piece of tubular, yellow striped cargo. We first saw it on a single barge being pushed down the Mississippi River south of La Crosse, WI.
Had no idea then what it was… still have no idea, but I recently saw it again!! …being towed by a tug down the East Coast of Florida off St. Lucie County. Would love to hear from someone what it is. It is exceptionally unusual to have seen it on the Upper Mississippi, and amazing to me that I have now seen it a second time. Anyone have any idea at all??
I recently stopped at the new observation platform just south of Goose Island to see the tundra swans scattered over the surface of a thin sheet of ice just south of Goose Island, on Hwy 35 in Wisconsin.
They don’t normally stick around when the ice forms, but I guess these knew that a warm front will settle into Wisconsin this weekend! That makes it a great weekend to visit both Wisconsin and Minnesota for swan and duck watching. Volunteers and Mississippi River Fish and Wildlife Refuge personnel will be available weekends with spotting scopes and information until the Tundra Swans leave in mid-December. Alex had a container full of ARROWROOT TUBERS during our visit, which is what the swans are eating in Pool 8.
Yesterday, I met a gentleman, Pete Harmon, who had driven 12 hours from OHIO to come and photograph the swans.
“Creation is so magnificent,” he said, “I just feel priviledge that I can capture one tiny aspect of it in a photograph.”
Had a note yesterday from one of my favorite bird photographers, Alan Stankevitz. He reported the amazing sight of seeing a 1000 Swans or more drop out of the sky onto Pool 8 at Brownsville, Minnesota…
“While spending a splendid afternoon today at the Brownsville Overlook (Hwy 26, 3 miles south of Brownsville, MN) there was a sudden fall-out of well over 1,000 Tundra Swans that dropped from high altitudes and landed on Pool 8. At first, they were just faint white specs way off in the distance, but within a few minutes they were beginning to land. What an incredible sight!
“I would estimate there are well over 10,000 Tundra Swans now on Pool 8 already.”
“I tried to capture the sight of the swans in the photo at left, but it doesn’t do it justice! The entire sky was filled with glittering swans.”