So Much Has Changed!!

Ice fishermenWhat a difference two weeks can make! River is frozen. Swans long gone. Ice Fishermen abound. Eagles will be searching out open areas in the ice field. And while you may see local fishermen out on the ice… BEWARE. River ice cannot be trusted, even from day to day. River currents¬†EAT ice.

A fisherman friend relayed that he used a special truck for ice fishing… the top had been removed so that if he fell through the ice, he could immediately push off and head for the hole.

Well, it happened that he DID fall through, and he immediately swam to the surface break. Current is obviously a great enemy, but hypothermia strikes in minutes.

He found himself sitting on the edge of the fragile ice edge, kicking his feet in the water. He had to logically think, “this is not normal. I SHOULD be freezing to death.”

So he pulled his body up and ran for the highway where he had his “road truck” parked. He made it to the truck, started out onto Hwy 35. He did reach the highway… and stopped right in the path of traffic.

Another driver stopped behind him, realized something must be wrong, and found Harold hypothermic behind the wheel of his truck.

Tundra Swans Arriving in Numbers

As we drove Minnesota’s Great River Road from Red Wing ¬†to La Crescent this weekend… “indicator species” at various waysides highlighted the arrival of Tundra Swans!

Such clusters of humans with binoculars and cameras announce the “swan song” of 2011. Best viewing of Tundra Swans seemed to be right along HWY 61 just north of Minnieska, Minnesota (Weaver Bottoms) and again just south of Goose Island in Wisconsin. No doubt the Swans are also clustered just outside of Brownsville, Minnesota, and perhaps just north of Alma, Wisconsin at Reich’s Lake.

A word of warning though… I saw two men standing on the railroad tracks engrossed in watching an American Bald Eagle soaring up above.

Not smart.

There is a very real possibility that when engrossed in viewing wildlife, one would never hear the train coming until it is simply too late. Stand well off the railroad tracks!!

River Transitions

The seed islands north of Stoddard have been crowded this week with pelicans gathering for the trip south. With November just around the corner, and our first frosts already in the air, it’s time to start watching for Tundra Swans! I heard from Al Stankevitz that he has seen a very few towards the center of the pool at Brownsville, Mn. So be on the lookout for the long white necks of the Tundra Swans. In a few more weeks we should have many thousands!!

Just a reminder, too, that we have an extensive BIRDING section in the Mississippi River Home Page!

Please use the REPLY link to update our fellow birders on your observerations! This will be a spam-free way to keep one another posted on birding along the Mississippi River!!

Spring, Spring Spring!!

Photo by Rich MiddletonWe’re close to hitting 50 degrees in the Upper Mississippi River Valley. Sandhill cranes, Canada Geese, starlings have all returned. The Mourning Dove is cooing again and the morning is beginning to be vibrant with bird chatter. We’ve heard from the St. Louis area that pelicans are back on their way north. I don’t know that ANYONE appreciates spring like someone who lives up here!