Last week we visited my dear friend and Wild Ones member Mandy Ploch. She has a cabin near the Mississippi River, and we ventured out to see the Tundra Swans.
The islands are shoreline- and shallow-water zones and are an important habitat for plants and wildlife. Aquatic vegetation thrives on the leeward side of the island, protected from wind and wave action. The plants provide food and shelter for a variety of wildlife such as muskrats, turtles, herons, and fish. Migrating waterfowl rest, feed, and find protection from cold winds here. These islands, located within the closed area, are especially important in the fall because they provide a place for wildlife to rest and feed relatively undisturbed.
The Tundra Swans need a lot of fuel for their flight from the Arctic Circle to the marshes of Chesapeake Bay. So when ponds in southern Canada and North Dakota start to ice over in October, the swans fly down to feast on arrowhead tubers and wild celery along the Mississippi before continuing east. During the fall migration, ducks, geese, swans, and other water birds feed on the aquatic plants that grow all summer long. They need to fuel-up for their journey to their wintering grounds.
The Brownsville Overlook is three miles south of Brownsville, off Minnesota Highway 26, 18 miles south of La Crosse, Wisconsin / La Crescent, Minnesota, not far from the Iowa border.