Friday, August 24, 2012

New Destination on the Pine to Prairie Birding Trail

Bird's Eye View of the Audubon Center & Agassiz Valley Impoundment  Looking North

Two dozen members of the Pine to Prairie Birding Trail marketing group met at the Audubon Center today for lunch and a tour of the Agassiz Valley Water Resources Mgmt  Project impoundment.  They came for a first-hand look at the newest addition to Minnesota's first birding trail that highlights more than 45 birding "hot spots" from the Canadian border south to Fergus Falls. 

(Thanks to the Warren Chamber for serving lunch. the Marshall County Fair for letting us use their tram and the Middle Snake Tamarac Rivers Watershed District for providing the tour).

They liked what they saw:  grasslands and a variety of wetlands ranging from 3-40 feet deep that have proved irresistible to wild birds - including American White Pelicans, Bald Eagles, Short-eared Owls and prairie songbirds - Western Meadowlarks, Bobolinks and Western Kingbirds.  It's not unusual to spot Snowy Owls, Rough-legged Hawks and Golden Eagles in the winter.

The new wildlife observation loop

While the Agassiz Valley Project is first and foremost a flood control project,  the Middle-Snake-Tamarac Rivers Watershed District has recognized the recreational potential for birdwatching.  To accommodate bird and wildlife observation, the Watershed District recently improved the one-way road atop the dike - adding gravel and a place for vehicles to park.

Visitors can access the wildlife loop from the northwest corner of the impoundment (at the corner of 210th Street and 280th Ave).  The loop exits at 200th Street.  The road on the north, southwest and south side of the dike is closed to visitors.

However, Agassiz Audubon members who are willing to help with the Agassiz Valley bird survey can can apply for a permit to access the entire road.  Call for details  218-745-5663.