Saturday, November 24, 2007

Tundra Swan Trip-Part 1

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, I didn't have to work very hard to talk my sissy into coming with me to see some swans down by the Mississippi. Since she's a little more familiar with that area than I am, I drove and she got to tell me where to go!!

Since we didn't find the swans until the very end of the trip, I'm going to do this post in 2 parts with the first part showing some of the interesting sites along the way and the second part (tomorrow) of just swans. Today's post includes a very short (4 second) movie of the swans--my first attempt at movies with my camera and also downloading it to Blogger. Tomorrow I hope to include a 20-second clip where you will get to see and hear more of the swans.

Naturally, no trip for us is worth starting out without copious amounts of snacks and mugs of hot beverages (not to mention a full tank of gas) from the local convenience store. While at the gas pump, right next to us the dog grooming lady pulled up with her adorable passengers. These 3 big doggies were so well-behaved....they each stayed in their appropriate seat while their "mom" was in the store paying for her gas. Amazing.....
That boxer in the front seat was so cute--I love their funny, squished-up faces.

Driving east, we traveled through the Whitewater Wildlife Management area, where the roads have only recently been repaired and re-opened from the August 2007 flood. We saw so many red-tailed hawks and bald eagles. This eagle sitting in a tree near the road was the only one I was able to get a picture of.
My sissy also spotted what appeared to be a large balde eagle nest in a tree off in the distance and when we put the spotting scope on it, we were able to see the bald eagle sitting atop the nest surveying his kingdom. Very cool.

When we got to the Weaver Bottoms backwater area, we found that most of the water already had a thin layer of ice on the top, so there was no waterfowl to be seen in that area. We crossed the Mississippi at Wabasha and ended up first in Nelson, Wisconsin where we had to stop for some cheese curds and so I could take a picture of this "larger-than-life" great blue heron for Mary.

We continued southward to the Riecks Lake Park where my sissy has always seen swans in the past. The water there also had a thin layer of ice but there were 3 swans....who decided to fly away about the time we got out of the car. Oh well, that stop wasn't a total waste because right next to the parking lot was this really big tree that a beaver has been working on.

This tree is going to make one heckuva splash when it hits the water!

Onward to Alma, swans here either, but there were large flocks of seagulls flying around at the lock and dam. Can anyone tell me if they're catching fish? Or why do they like to hang around here where the water is all stirred up by the dam?

Driving through Fountain City, Wisconsin, I came across this sign for my friend Tom. We didn't stop to check out the establishment, but Mon@rch, if you ever get to southwestern Wisconsin, you'll want keep this place in mind....

We finally made our way from Wisconsin down to Brownsville, Minnesota, where our Audubon club had gone on a tundra swan field trip last Sunday. This was our last hope for seeing any swans and we drove quite a few miles without seeing anything. We decided to go just a little bit further before giving up and turning around for home and as we came around a bend and started heading down hill, we could see the backwaters were all covered with little white specks. Gulls or swans?? Sissy grabbed her binoculars and confirmed they were swans.....thousands of them!
Tune in tomorrow for "Tundra Swan Trip-Part 2."


MOM said...

WOW!! I can hardly wait for tomorrows installment of the tundra swan trip. Nice pictures and story line. The video was great and a lot of calling between swans.

mon@rch said...

Love those swan calls in the video and congrats with the eagle, etc.. I love seeing you with the hat :) and I would love checking out that Tavern!! Can't wait for tomorrows post !

Ruth said...

I walked by the river today (brrr!!!) specifically to see the reported Tundra Swans and Bald Eagles that people have seen this week.No sightings! I might as well have stayed home (and warm) and read your post!! Wow!

Mary C said...

Ruthie - I'm glad the video worked for you. That's great! And I'm looking forward to tomorrow's post as well. That looks like a fun trip - two sisters driving along, having fun, and seeking out the water birds.

Meggie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meggie said...

Hey Ruth: Great post! Can't wait for Part 2.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

what a fun outing. Makes me want to go.

Trixie said...

Whoa! Look at all those swans, and that tree. Amazing.

I laid around with a miserable cold on Friday. Glad you did not.

LauraHinNJ said...

Incredible group of tundras - wow!

Deb said...

The tundras must have all slipped by me this year. Usually I see a flock or two in the air. They are an incredible sight.

And that was one determined beaver!

RuthieJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RuthieJ said...

Hi Mom,
I was lucky with getting those 4 swans at just the right time. If the wind wouldn't have been blowing so hard, you could have heard them better.

Hi Mon@rch,
That's going to be my 'official' birding trip hat (my ear muffs were in the car). I think the Monarch Tavern might be a stop for me next spring during migration (now that I know it's there!)

Hi Ruth,
We stopped at so many places and didn't see swans that I was worried we had missed them too. I glad I finally found some to share with everyone (but it was pretty cold by us too).

Hi Mary C,
Thanks for your help on the video. I was pretty happy it turned out, but did take a really long time to process through Blogger (just like you said).

Hi Meggie,
Glad you enjoyed it.

Hi Lisa,
It was a fun day....did you notice the white German Shepherd in the back seat of the car? I thought of you right away. That dog was the sleepiest, so its head was barely sticking up by the window when I took the picture.

Hi Trixie,
My sissy was just getting over her cold on Friday, but she was a trooper on this trip and thoughtfully shared her Hall's immunity lozenges with me! I hope you feel better soon.

Hi Laura,
It was one of the most awesome birding sights I've ever experienced. Do you see them in New Jersey during spring migration?

Hi Deb,
I saw (and heard) one flock fly over as I was leaving work on Wednesday, so I was hoping there would still be some around on Friday.

Jayne said...

I'd have peed my pants seeing that Eagle! :c) Sissy would have had to go back to get some Depends with the cheese curls. WOW... thousands of swans, just for you and your sissy. Can't wait to see more video. What an amazing day you all must have had!

Marsha said...

How exciting it must have been to see those swans. Looking forward to the next installment!

The eagle shot is great!

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

That's a great shot of the beaver-ravaged tree. Those critters sure don't mind taking on a big project, do they?

I wish I had someone to go bird watching with. I suppose I'll have to do more than just read my local Audubon newsletter to find someone!

--Robin (Bumblebee)

Jennifer said...

Wow. What a day. Sounds like a blast. Tom and I are just going to have to drive to Wisconsin to go to the Monarch. Whaddya say, Tom?

RuthieJ said...

Hi Jayne,
Well, I came pretty darn close.... I couldn't believe he just sat there--even when I got out of the truck to take the picture!

Hi Marsha,
Did you happen to hear any of those swans flying over while you were out in the yard and garden last week? They sound so different from the Canada geese.

Hi Robin,
That was the biggest beaver-chewed tree I've ever seen! There aren't many in our area of Minnesota, so that's why this one needed to have a photo taken! As clumsy as I am, my sissy kept saying, "don't fall in the water" (there was only about 14 inches of solid ground for me to stand on behind the tree).

Hey Jennifer,
Excellent birding along this Mississippi flyway too. Let me know when you guys are coming and I'll meetcha there!!

Mary said...

Fantastic trip, Ruthie! I'm so jealous but I'm glad you thought of me and my fetish for GBHs. LOL!

Oh, I would have loved to been there and hear them "live". Great video.

A little bonus - the passenger dogs. Love that boxer!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mary,
It would have been fun to have you along too, because we saw so many other birds in addition to the swans (no "real" GBHs though).

I knew you would like that boxer, but I still think Mr Biggins has a cuter face!