Swans galore are the norm just south of Brownsville, MN. Fall migration offers birders an opportunity to decide: trumpeter or tundra swan? Swans and dabbling ducks can be seen from one overlook; less than one mile away is a deep water overlook with diving waterfowl. This is a staging area for one species and is used year around for the other. From 2-3 p.m. and again from 4-5 p.m. on November 13, Chase and Ed Davies will be at the Brownsville Overlook to talk about what swans and dabbling ducks are in sight, the life histories of the swans, and management challenges of the constantly changing river. Sundown is at 4:41; the sight of swans returning from feeding areas to congregate overnight in Pool 8 is an unforgettable experience and the reason for this late-day meeting. From 3-4 p.m., Chase and Ed will be at the Hwy 26 overlook, a mile south of the Brownsville Overlook. Diving ducks feed in this part of Pool 8, possible including canvasbacks and mergansers. Plan ahead and enjoy a “Day Along the Mighty Mississippi River,” and post your photos and comments afterwards on Saint Paul Audubon’s Facebook page.
DIRECTIONS The time and travel distance are nearly the same whether you travel to Rochester, then use I-90, or if you travel along the river on US 61 in MN or partly in WI to I-90. North of LaCrescent MN, I-90 crosses the river between MN and WI. Take US 61 and/or I-90 to MN 16 South; about 3 miles south of LaCrescent, on a curve stay left at junction with MN 26. Stay on MN 26 to the Brownsville Overlook, which is 3 miles south of Brownsville. The Hwy 26 Overlook is another 1.5 miles south of the Brownsville Overlook.
INSTRUCTIONS Dress for cool temperatures and probable winds on the river bank, including a warm hat and gloves.
SAFE BIRDING GUIDELINES Wear a face mask and observe social distancing. Sharing equipment is not safe, but bring a spotting scope for your own use, binoculars, field guide, or a camera with telescopic lens.
DIFFICULTY Overlooks are curbside to parking and are handicap accessible.
AMENITIES In the past, Brownsville Overlook had a handicap-accessible portable outhouse.
REGISTRATION Please sign in at the sites. LEADERS Chase and Ed Davies, 651 246-9754, [email protected]
TIPS: Swans are dispersed during the day but depending on wind a bunch may be seen feeding along US 61 within sight of the Minneiska Cemetery in MN just south of where the Whitewater River enters the Mississippi River; a roost site can be seen from a viewing platform in a park north of the Buffalo River, just north of Alma, WI.
OTHER THINGS TO DO: The Eagle Center in Wabasha https://www.nationaleaglecenter.org/ Wild Wings Art Gallery in Lake City MN https://wildwings.com/ MN Marine Art Museum in Winona https://www.mmam.org/ Riecks Lake Park, just north of Alma, WI Colvill Park, Red Wing, MN. Check out some of the pullouts along Lake Pepin
8.5 x 14 Map of Lower Pool 8: https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/LowerPool8.pdf