Bellevue State Park Butterfly Sanctuary
Bellevue State Park, near Bellevue, Iowa, just south of Dubuque, is located atop a 300-foot high limestone bluff with panoramic views of the Mississippi River valley and Lock & Dam 12. It also shelters the largest Butterfly Garden in Iowa.
The Garden Sanctuary for Butterflies near the in the Nelson Unit contains a variety of interesting displays on the plants, animals and geology of Bellevue State Park.
. This unique area contains over one hundred separate plots, each featuring plants which provide food and habitat for butterflies. A network of pathways allows visitors to walk through the garden and see a wide variety of butterflies as well as enjoy the beautiful array of flowers and the pond in the center. For more information visit the website at Butterfly Garden.
According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, butterflies found in Iowa are either in the process of migration or are completing one of the various stages of their life cycle. Approximately 60 species of butterfly can be expected to make their appearance at the Butterfly Garden each year. Host plants for butterflies include wild aster, ragweed, goldenrod, lamb’s-quarters, daisy fleabane, milkweed, cottonwoods, wild cherry, hackberry and willows.
The PBS special on exploring the Shannon River in Ireland reminds me that we have several pieces on Ireland you may like to View. Clicking the BLUE links or the photos will take you to the stories and our shopping cart with zoom lens for the historic maps.
WATERWAY CRUISE REPORT
Cruising the Irish Heartland on the SHANNON RIVER
with the Shannon Princess
or use the SEARCH BOX upper right, to find more recent Ireland-related pieces on greatriver.com
Passionate Ireland! In conjunction with our river cruises, we generally do a two week land tour. Click Blue Link for our view of “Passionate Ireland.”
For Map Buffs, here is Ireland and the British Isles. These are all from an 1906 series by English Cartographer, John Bartholomew. I love the colors painted by the map artist, and the fact that RAILROADS are the featured mode of transportation rather than highways!
Click the image to find more about the history and how to purchase each map.
Map art is available in numerous sizes and as note cards. Click on images for details.
Brief note, now is an excellent time to be observing waterfowl passing through Pool 8. We saw a pair of TRUMPETER SWANS hanging about all last week in the sloughs and just south of Goose Island (normally in twos, rather than a large group, and note the very large black bill. Wing spread can approach 10 feet!). The Audubon group confirms that indeed there are many more TRUMPETERS than normal on the Upper Missisippi this year. A small mob of PELICANS is clustering forlornly in the Bay just above Stoddard.
- Very large swan with all-black bill
- Long, sloping forehead
- © Laura Erickson, St. Louis, Missouri, February 2008
Similar Species: Tundra Swan
From the Cornell Bird Lab: “Trumpeter Swans demand superlatives: they’re our biggest native waterfowl, stretching to 6 feet in length and weighing more than 25 pounds—almost twice as massive as a Tundra Swan. Getting airborne requires a lumbering takeoff along a 100-yard runway. Despite their size, this once-endangered, now recovering species is as elegant as any swan, with a graceful neck and snowy-white plumage. They breed on wetlands in remote Alaska, Canada, and the northwestern U.S., and winter on ice-free coastal and inland waters.”
(Trumpeter Swans are also found from St. Louis to N. Wisconsin! – Pat)
Additionally, among the many ducks seen between Goose Island and Genoa, are Lesser Scaup, Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, Canvas Backs, Bufflehead, and American Widgeon. Bring your bird book! My goal this spring has to get some of these sorted out with my binoculars and a little help from the Audubon Club. These are strikingly beautiful ducks!
Eagles continue to be prolific from the Twin cities south. Not unusual to see as many as 11 adults in sight on the ice. I’m also noting many juveniles still hanging about. They become dispersed once the ice melts, so enjoy them while you can. See an eagle nest? Look for the “balde” head of the adult sitting in it!
New from Michael Gillespie, THE PHANTOM BRAKEMAN and Other Old Time Railroad Stories from the Era of Steam
ISBN 978-0-9711602-6-2, 172 pages, $19.95. Also available to museums and gift shops.
Please call 608-457-2734 to ORDER your books for immediate shipping.
As with all our books by steam historian, Michael Gillespie, this collection is full of historic photographs, entertaining tales from the days of steam railroading, and witty, insightful editorial commentary!
If you enjoyed COME HELL OR HIGH WATER, WILD RIVER WOODEN BOATS, or OLD TIME RAILROAD Stories, you will want to add this quality book to your steam collection.
Railroad buffs will also enjoy our broad selection of gift prints of Railroad maps! Please visit greatriverarts.com > SHOP and then enter railroad maps into the SEARCH button. We have maps for many individual lines and states. Also, all maps in the 1906 series include rail lines from that time frame.
During our brief early February “summer” our Mississippi River big birds made their move to the North.
Sandhill Cranes, in.
Tundra Swans migrating north overhead in huge flocks… check.
Bald Eagles are currently everywhere… 17 on the edge of the river ice, 4 circling up ahead, 3 in a dead tree. And more on the nests! It is a great moment to be out observing the transformation to spring!
How early are the cranes this year? Several days earlier than my historic “early date” of Feb 23, 2005! Here are some more arrival dates:
Feb 18, 2017
Feb 23, 2005 (a good two weeks earlier than normal!)
March 15, 2003
March 13, 2002
March 13, 2001
March 16, 1999
March 1, 1998
March 10, 1997
March 13, 1996
March 18, 1993
April 4, 1992
March 9, 1988
March 17, 1987
Finally, check out this river snapshot! Could that be an adult Golden Eagle confronting an adult Bald Eagle? And what about the immature on lower right? Is it Bald or Golden? I’d love your opinion!
Get out there and enjoy before the next storm hits!
February 17-20 Great Backyard Bird Count Bird watchers of all ages count birds to create a real time snapshot of where birds are. To learn more and participate in this citizen science project, visit their website at: http://gbbc.birdcount.org
March 19 – Mississippi River Waterfowl Field Trip. Dan Jackson will lead a waterfowl viewing field trip on Saturday, Meet at 8 a.m. at the entrance to Goose Island. We will head south and look for waterfowl and other
early migrants as far as Genoa or Rush Creek and finish around noon. The trip is free and open to everyone.
April 8 – Annual Midwest Crane Count – 5:30 a.m.-7:30 a.m. The Annual Midwest Cr
ane Count is one of the largest citizen-based wildlife surveys in the world. One of the primary purposes of the Crane Count is to monitor the abundance and distribution of cranes in th
e Upper Midwest. The Crane Count is organized by county in Wisconsin and portions of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota. Scott Puchalski will coordinate La Crosse County this year. Other area counties are also looking for volunteers.
Past participants will receive an email from Scott in early April inviting you to participate again. If you have not counted before and would like to join the count, please send Scott an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org and he will help you get started. More information on the Crane Count can be found at: www.savingcranes.org.
Reports of perhaps 1000 Swans resting off the Brownsville, MN, overlook. Saw about a dozen south of Goose Island at the overlook. Large numbers of Pelicans as well! Naturalists were available with spotting scopes. Thanks, folks!
Mississippi River Ribbon Maps
Story is adapted by Pat Middleton, www.greatriver.com, from an article by Bob Mullen, for The Paddlewheel newsletter published by the Golden Eagle River Museum, St. Louis, Missouri
(Left) Authentic Historic Ribbon map with Winder, sized for use on the boat.
Imagine a map of the Mississippi River that shows all of the cities and towns along the river and all the landings where a steamboat might stop.
Make the map about three inches wide and in one continuous strip showing the entire river from the Gulf of Mexico to its source at Lake Itasca, Minnesota. If you imagined correctly, you would have a map that is about eleven feet in length, like a long streamer or ribbon. Now roll up the map to a couple of inches in diameter and put into a wooden cylindrical container that can easily fit into your pocket!
Let us celebrate with historic French maps! Click on the maps to read detailed histories from Great River Arts… Lisa Middleton, Map Artist.Pause the curser over the map image and a magnifying glass with allow you to study the maps!!
We will do a different century through this coming week! First, the 18th Century.
Les Etats Unis 1765 (approx)
Les, Etats Unis, detail of Upper Mississippi River… “The Source of the River is Unknown..”
Ft Beauharnois near today’s Frontenac Minn
1731, De L’Isle’s CARTE DE LA LOUISIANE… With Lake Pepin Named on the Upper Mississippi River…. name requested by King Louis 14th!