The Tundra Swans have returned immediately on the tail of one of the most glorious fall displays ever along the Upper Mississippi! And we are expecting a beautiful two weeks of Indian Summer to welcome them back to Pool 8!
So right now is prime time for Swan viewing between La Crosse and Stoddard, Wis. or south of La Crescent to south of Brownsville, MN. Both Wisconsin and Minnesota offer scenic waysides south of La Crosse.
Tens of thousands of swans will stop to rest and feed in shallow open water in the next two weeks. Use your binocs and notice that the American White Pelicans are also here among the swans. If you see a few groups of large 2-4 swans, they are most likely TRUMPETER SWANS. The grayer swans are this year’s cygnets. Many of the swans seen now are family groups, so there will be many young among the flocks.
Leaves have pretty much fallen, so Eagles will seem abundant. Watch for huge black nests and eagle “snags”, dead trees for fishing that eagles will use year after year! It’s a great time to be on the river!!
Much more information from previous posts can be found by using the SEARCH button and such key words as: Tundra Swans or Trumpeter Swans or Pelicans or ducks. Also visit our interactive map measuring the density of bird migration along the Mississippi River Flyway!!
350 years ago, the course of history was changed forever. In May of 1673, Father Marquette and explorer Louis Jolliet set out from Green Bay, Wisconsin and traveled along waterways from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River. This expedition, when many cultures met for the first time, opened commerce and transportation routes still used today.
This summer, from June 16th to June 18th, Prairie du Chien and Crawford County, Wisconsin celebrate the deep and continuing regional history represented by this expedition. The 350th Expedition Celebration offers the opportunity to better understand our region’s rich history. A history that began with the many native nations who lived on this land for centuries before the French explorers saw it for the first time. At the celebration, you will experience historical reenactments by the voyageurs and performances from native nations.
This 2023 celebration commemorates the 350th anniversary of Marquette and Jolliet’s expedition reaching the Mississippi River at Prairie du Chien. Come and experience this historic anniversary. In addition to the historical reenactments and native american performances, event go-ers will enjoy the Prairie Villa Rendevous, flea market, farmer’s market, old-tyme photo opportunities, carriage rides, ax throwing, flint knapping and other historical demonstrations and displays, medallion hunt, old-time kids games, carnival performances (juggling, stilt walkers, hula hoop workshop), historical tours, parade, music, fireworks, food and so much more. (TRAVEL WISCONSIN)
In addition to the Expedition Celebration, the third annual FHC conference will be held in Prairie du Chien from June 15-17. I believe anyone may register for a series of fascinating historical presentations. Events list follows:
June 15, 2023: Full-day Conference and buffet lunch at The Barn, 32800 County Road K
June 16, 2023: Full-day of guided site visits led by Mary Elise Antoine, FHC WI Ambassador and President Emeritus of the Prairie du Chien Historical Society
Below is the USGS interactive map that provides REAL TIME info on which Rivers in the US are cresting. The map below is accurate every day. Black Triangles indicate flood stage. Looking to compare stats with the Flood of 1993? CLICK HERE.
See more interactive maps by clicking the category in the list to right: INTERACTIVE MAPS.
What a difference a month makes! Temps are settling in the 40s one week, 70s next, and then back to 40s! Snow accumulates, then melts, then falls again. Our great Mississippi rises, then falls, then floods! Just now, the crest is slipping from La Crosse into Iowa, but hover close to moderate flood levels everywhere.
Many parks are still closed, but birds are still moving along the Mississippi River flyway. They are, however, moving in fits and starts along with inclimate weather and high water. Their one necessity is the availability of food along the route. With another round of nice weather approaching Wisconsin and Minnesota, birds should be back on the move!
Our Sandhill nest is full of activity as the eggs hatched on April 29 – about a week early. Eagles are busy with their own fledglings, so check out nests for the white heads of adults busy with bringing food to the nests. Egrets and Great Blue Herons have arrived and are visible in ponds and sloughs not directly on the flooded Mississippi River. White pelicans also are checking out the smaller wetland ponds along the flooded river. We see them frequently.
Riverboats, including the Twilight, the newly restored Julia Belle Swaine, and the La Crosse Queen are all eager to start their seasons “come hell or high water!”
I will be posting several links just to remind you of what you can find on our Mississippi River at this time of year, and also on greatriver.com While I no longer post daily, our archives are filled with seasonal information!! Use the Search Button above or search through our CATEGORIES! And Happy Spring!
Between thunderstorms, Winter Snow Warnings, and now Sunshine! I’ve been wondering what the response of our (mostly) migratory waterfowl would be over the course of the last day or two. Viewing has been great from Goose Island south to the Bay immediately north of Stoddard, along Hwy 35. Big white swans on their own in pairs are most likely Trumpeter Swans, while the migratory Tundra Swans will be visible in large numbers. If you see a thick cluster of large white birds, check closely for the large bill, heavy body and short neck of the pelicans.
All the waterfowl have been passing through for 2-3 weeks, as well as the mass of migratory ducks. Bring your bird guide to ferret out the many species of Dabbling (shallow water) ducks and Diving ducks (bigger, deeper areas) you are bound to see. Bald Eagles are abundant and Sandhill Cranes are pretty much settled into their nesting territories now and are busy calling to one another.It’s a wonderful time of new life on the river!
This is just to let your know that while White Pelicans still abound, they are clustered up in tight pods wherever they can get out of the wind. Check your favorite Eagle nests…those I like to watch all still have adults in them, but I did have a report that during one of our sleet storms a nest was abandoned. No Tundra Swans, of course, but there are Trumpeters! Walked through Goose Island and many of our spring waterfowl are still here. Eagles are abundant, indeed. Sandhill Cranes on their nests. Beaver, muskrat, even herons are out and about. Find them sheltering from the wind and looking for some of the warmer weather forecast for next week.
Ice has begun to clear from the Mississippi River, and like clock-work, our puddle ducks, diving ducks, White Pelicans, Trumpeter Swans, Sandhill Cranes and Tundra Swans have begun the great move northward. About the 5th of March, we were already hearing the Cranes and the Tunda Swans. This week, the great white Trumpeter Swans have begun passing our porch windows into the small ponds and creek of the valley. For the past four days, large pods of White Pelicans are clustering all along the river from Stoddard to Goose Island. Sandhill Cranes are now establishing their territories and making a rukus!
Except for a sloppy snow day today, river birding has been great. As the weather clears up visit the many roadside rest areas along Highway 35 in Wisconsin. Bald Eagles are abundant–a couple dozen at a sweep of the eye, clustered along the floating ice sheets and beside the big black nests. Happy Spring!!
La Crosse and the 10th Street Historic District have something new to celebrate this winter! Map Artist Lisa Middleton, who grew up in the area and graduated from Viterbo recently returned to La Crosse for a visit and discovered a beautifully restored 1860s home that called her by name. It turns out that it was once home to La Crosse’s own Doc Powell, and visited often by his pal, Buffalo Bill Cody!
“My Montana home at the doorstep of Glacier Nat’l Park taught me a lot about providing a rich visitor experience for Airbnb travelers, and I truly felt this location offered many of the highlights I value in my own life. Travelers can relax in the home of La Crosse’s Doc Powell and record their visit in the same way that Powell and his pal, Buffalo Bill did… standing by the double doors of the entry, or leaning on the mantle of the dining room!”
While Lisa is best known as the map artist who has painted many historic Midwest maps available from her company Great River Arts, she has expanded her base to include her personally designed maps for sought after destinations around the US and the World. Private individuals often commission her illustrated designs for mapping large property holdings, preserves, and family histories. Her new home is destined to become a showcase for her beautiful historic maps which feature Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota as recorded by explorers, and the earliest settlers.
“I’ve dreamed for a long time of having a home with a “brick-and-Mortar” Gallery and a Studio for my Art and business. This beautiful home, completely renovated, provides for my vision as well as a unique regional sense of history for travelers and short term residents. Visitors are in walking distance of the YMCA, two major hospitals, and it is in the cross-road of both Viterbo and UW-La Crosse. We are within walking distance of the La Crosse Riverfront where all the big river cruise boats dock!
Lisa has provided guests with public and private rooms furnished with an artist’s eye. King sized beds are new and exceedingly comfortable. There are three upstairs bathrooms and one Master suite with bathroom attached. The shared kitchen offers a gourmet gas range, granite countertops, a giant refrigerator, dishwasher, and coffee machines–all available for guest use. Renovators shared this appreciation for history…engraved radiators from the 1880s still keep the home cozy warm, the bathroom floors heated. The stairway banister, the dining room buffet, and the broad paneling along the floor and ceilings remind us that craftsmen of the era, and the wood they worked, were the best available in the world.
Choosing furnishings to compliment two living rooms, dining room, breakfast nook, kitchen, 4 bedrooms, three baths is a daunting task which has been accomplished by Lisa with all the aplomb of an artist sketching the illustrations of a new map…
“We have a number of guests who have signed up for the Holiday Season,” Lisa notes. “I look forward to welcoming many more who will appreciate the history and heritage of this fascinating Driftless Region.”
Photos and more details about the home and accommodations are now available on line at Lisa’s AirBnB site.
We’ve been enjoying watching large flights of Tundra swans pass over the valley, and sure enough, there are large groups clustered on the slough along Hwy 35 just south of Goose Island and La Crosse! Glistening white with black edging their wings. Generally many are in the air above the flock, in a constant repositioning. Hardwoods are still colorful… oaks, maples, hickory, so come out and enjoy the weekend along the river!!
For more on Tundra swans as well as TRUMPETERS, please use the SEARCH button near the top right of the page.
Fall Foliage Hot Lines from greatriver.com While mid-October seems to be the time when Fall Foliage really POPS along the Upper Mississippi River, we on the Upper River are certainly already seeing brilliant red sumacs. Softwoods are starting to yellow up. You can follow the southward march of Fall Color with the contacts below. Weather is perfect, enjoy the drive!
More Fall Foliage Hot Lines from greatriver.com While mid-October seems to be the time when Fall Foliage really POPS along the Upper Mississippi River, we on the Upper River are certainly already seeing brilliant red sumacs. Softwoods are starting to yellow up. You can follow the southward march of Fall Color with the contacts below. Weather is perfect, enjoy the drive!
And don’t leave home without the indispensable guides to Mississippi River and Great River Road travel! Every volume of DISCOVER! America’s Great River Road is filled with a variety of fascinating Mississippi River fact and lore. Photos, maps, charts! All Volumes contain info on birding, wildlife viewing hotspots. Each highlights Geography, interpretive history and natural history attractions along the Great River Road.