Friday, March 23, 2012

Early Swan Fall

Hundreds of Tundra Swans in Warren

"Hey, have you seen all the swans in the fields down 190th Street?" Randy Trudell asked me when he stopped by to give me an estimate on a tree removal job at the Audubon Center.

"When?" I asked.

"I saw them just now when I drove up here,"  Randy said.

No, I hadn't.

Soon as we were finished looking at the trees, I got in my car and drove west on 190th Street towards US 75.  I didn't get more than a mile when my eye caught a half dozen big birds flying, like moths attracted to a street light - around in a circle over the CRP.

The sky was overcast.  It had been raining all morning.  So the light was not so good for photos.  I got out of the car and took a picture anyway.

One of a half-dozen Short-eared Owls

Short-eared Owl on 190th Street

I wondered when we'd start seeing Short-eared Owls again, but I didn't expect it soon - and so early in the day.

Seeing them reminded me of an unforgettable experience I'd had years ago - watching these birds do their breeding display - barking like dogs and "wing-clapping" at dusk.  Maybe we'll get lucky and see the "show" here in Warren this spring.

After the owls flew out of view, I got back in the car and continued down 190th looking for the field full of swans.

I didn't have much further to go.  I could see hundreds of them in the farm field off to the north at the intersection of 190th and 300th Ave.

But they were skiddish - taking off even though I was driving ever-so-slowly.

I've seen (and heard) hundreds of Tundra Swans whistling on the Mississippi River near Nelson, Wisconsin - but never did I expect to see them in Warren, Minnesota.

They're here thanks the Middle-Snake-Tarmarac Rivers Watershed District's new Agassiz Valley Water Resources impoundment just east of Warren on Minnesota Hwy 1. 

Tundra Swan in a muddy field

The best time to see them (and the thousands of other waterfowl at the impoundment) is dawn or dusk... and if you're lucky - midday in the fields south of Warren.

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