Greeted Sunday by getting up early to enjoy the valley!
Watched a “V” of geese go by… learned from birders yesterday that about this time Canada geese begin to flock up and continue to migrate northward. These are the geese that have not fledged any young this spring. Birders call it the “molt migration” as the geese will now begin to molt their breeding feathers. Preceded by weeks of loud honking as they begin to gather up. Usually occurs about June 1. The geese with hatchlings are now quite silent in order to protect the young.
We were stunned to see a pair of TRUMPETER swans fly along our hillside at almost eye level off the deck this a.m. Did they spend the night on the neighbors pond? Are they there now? That is a FIRST for the valley, I think.
Listened to wood thrush singing almost constantly through the morning, with their melodic “eolay”. Two, at least, calling back and forth between the two sides of our hill. We did hear them last year a few times, but they seem to have staked out our farm as territory this year.
Summer has settled in this weekend! Enjoy an outdoorsy holiday, friends!
Dan Jackson, who probably hears and sees every bird to pass through the Coulee Region has a reported several oddities of interest. Most recently (about May 16) he reported seeing this “white-faced ibis!!” His comments follow:
“The White-faced Ibis that was first seen about a week ago is still hanging out in the Halfway Creek Marsh. This marsh is on the north side of county ZN about ½ mile west of Midway and between Midway and the Visitor’s Center of the La Crosse District of the Upper Mississippi River NWR. This is west of Hwy 35 and County ZN can be reached by exiting on OT from that road. In Midway, take ZN to the west and watch for the small parking area on the right (north) side of the road after you go around a major corner. This is east of the RR tracks.”
Another interesting report was of the WHITE ROBIN Dan photographed this spring, which I cropped to show here! Dan has been posting his sightings at https://www.freelists.org/list/wisbirdn
Had the pleasure of greeting several big mobs of Pelicans the day before another winter storm moves across the Mississippi River. In one swoop of the binocs, between Goose Island and the Stoddard Dike, I saw Pelicans in rich white circular clusters, our 8 Trumpeter Swans feeding in last year’s rice beds, and a large loose flock of migrating Tundra Swans in a sheltered open pond.. Also Lesser Scaup, a puddle duck easily recognized by its grey-white back coloring. My guess is that the Tundra swans recognized the front of incoming snow and stopped to rest. Didn’t see them today as the river was engulfed in a whiteout of snow and fog. A good day to stay off the road!
For more on the recent history of pelicans on the river, CLICK HERE for our archive, or use the SEARCH box above.
In March 2017, I watched a lone pair of beautiful Trumpeter Swans working the open water just above the Stoddard Dike. Today there were 4 pair!
The Trumpeter Swan is a huge bird, with a wingspread up to 10 feet! But notice the very black bill which makes an almost perfect triangle and stretches right to the eye.
Image above is from the Trumpeter Swan society site. The society offers a detailed identification guide free if you CLICK HERE.
Image below is of a Tundra Swan, which is just slightly smaller and has a more curved bill and a light spot near the eye. Tundra Swans pass through in the Spring migration to the North, but will be seen in large groups. The Trumpeter, which was first established in Iowa in the last decade (I believe) now nests on the Upper River. Still very unusual to see.
Tundra Swan Image for comparison.
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I just heard from the La Crosse Audubon group that there are four trumpeter swans in Perrot S.P, and 16 in the Whitewater Wildlife management area. ( Open water on the north side of 74, before you hit the pavement coming from Weaver.) Waterfowl are certainly creatures of habit, but, they aren’t pinned down! So keep your eyes open!
Thank you for the heads up, Pat Schmidt!
Images below and in header are found at the Trumpeter Swan society site.
The Trumpeter is a huge bird, with a wingspread up to 10 feet! But notice the very black bill which makes an almost perfect triangle and stretches right to the eye.
The society offers a detailed identification guide free if you CLICK HERE.
Ok, Friends, as Great River Arts is encouraging us to find new options for using our
30 years of River Content and Waterway Travel, I am trying out pdf and flipbook formats.
Here is link to our first Old Time Railroad Stories Flipbook Sample, by Michael Gillespie. If you prefer a .pdf for your hand-held device, try this: Railroad Stories .pdf
If you wish to have it as a kindle file on Amazon, let me know and we will post it there!
Please have a look at our sampler links above and let me know what you think.
All of Mike’s books are now available at Amazon as both paperback and Kindle formats, as well as on our shopping cart at www.greatriverarts.com
I also have a Mississippi River Treasuring Hunting Guide based on one of our HEARTLAND BOATING feature stories, and I’d like to get a Winter Bald Eagle Pamphlet out before long.
Click this link for our TREASURE.pdf
and here for the Treasure flipbook.
Our idea is to offer shorter readings of perhaps 12 pages on specific topics, rather big chunks on the whole river. Your thoughts are welcome!
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