Each fall, the Mississippi River valley becomes a migration corridor for many species of waterfowl, raptors and shorebirds moving from their northern summer homes to warmer southern wintering grounds. One of the more spectacular birding opportunities in the southeastern Minnesota region is witnessing the impressive concentration of thousands of tundra swans in November at the Weaver Bottoms marshes of Winona County. Such great numbers of tundra swans only appear in this area on their route south.
The best time to view the tundra swans is from mid-October through mid-November, Two viewing areas are at the Watchable Wildlife Observation Platform at Rieck's Lake Park near Alma, Wisconsin, and along Highway 61 near Weaver Minnesota. For further information about the swans at Rieck's Lake Park, call (608) 248-3499 or visit their Web site at http://www.almaswanwatch.org/tourvol.asp.
Directions to Riecks Lake Park, Alma Wisconsin: Alma, Wisconsin is 85 miles south of St. Paul. Take highway U.S. 61 to either Red Wing or Wabasha and cross the Mississippi River. Follow Wisconsin Highway 35 south to Nelson. From Nelson, continue south on 35 for about 6 miles. Rieck's Lake Park will be on the east side of the highway, just before crossing a bridge.
Directions to Weaver Bottoms, just south of Weaver, Minnesota: The Weaver Bottoms marshes lie approximately 120 miles south of the Twin Cities on Hwy. 61.
** For a good view of the Weaver Bottoms area, drive southeast on Hwy 61, 1-3/4 miles past the Hwy. 74 junction. Take the spur road a short distance to the top of the hill.