10/31/2010 10 swans in Tell Lake, 2 swans in Riecks Lake, 50 swans in Fountain City
10/30/2010 10 swans in Tell Lake, 2 swans in Riecks Lake
10/27/2010 4 swans in Tell Lake, 6 swans in Buffalo River High winds and the swans are using tall grasses and downed trees as wind breaks. It takes a careful look to find them!
10/25/2010 6 swans in Tell Lake Other than sentinels, this is the 1st sighting of the season. Welcome to the beginning of swan season.
Our area is an important sight for migrating birds and waterfowl and the fall migration is just beginning. Fall Bird Migration
WHERE ARE THE TUNDRA SWANS IN ALMA? All though small in number, tundra swans can be found at Rieck's Lake, Tell Lake, the Buffalo River and the Mississippi River. The swans should arrive in late October and will remain until the backwaters begin to freeze and they can no longer feed on the tuberous roots.
The "swan experience" is very different from the days when swans were literally falling from the sky. From the viewing area at Rieck's Lake you can see from 4-20 swans and throughout the Buffalo River there will be approximately 200 swans but it takes patince and a diligent eye to spot them. On the Mississippi River there were area where you can see from 200-1000 swans, but it is long distance viewing.
Although fewer in number, many find that their viewing and photo opportunities were more personalized. A photographer who visits every season indicated they had "taken their best pictures ever" because of the smaller population in 2009.
Juvenile Tundra Swans Nov 2009 Tell Lake
As part of the Mississippi Flyway, the Upper Mississippi Wildlife and Fish Refuge is a perfect staging area for tundra swans. The backwaters of the Upper Mississippi River provide resting sites that are mostly undisturbed and an abundant food supply. Late-October to Mid-December Tundra swans rest on the Upper Mississippi River Navigation Pools 4-11 during the fall migration, moving through just before ice forms on the river.
The Eastern Population of tundra swans migrates through the Upper Mississippi River Valley. They breed along the arctic coast of Canada from Hudson Bay west to northwestern Alaska and they migrate to the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. According to the USGS, "scientists estimate that about 25% of the Eastern Population of tundra swans, including about half of all young produced, use the Upper Mississippi River during fall migration".
While the migrating population of tundra swans stopping over in Alma, Wisconsin has dwindled in recent years, swans are still visible in both the summer and fall migrations. This smaller number of swans offers the photography excellent photo ops. The viewing platform at Rieck's Lake Park is an excellent point to start your search for tundra swans.
Although more informal, driving Wisconsin Hwy 37 from Alma, Wisconsin along the Buffalo River is another opportunity to view swans. Upper Mississippi River backwaters (especially Weaver Bottoms) usually provide good viewing opportunities if you have access to a boat. Rieck's Lake Park Watchable Wildlife Observation Platform Located 2 miles north of Alma, Wisconsin on Wisconsin Hwy 35
Buffalo River & Tell Lake Viewing Just north of Alma, Wisconsin turn right at Wisconsin Hwy 37 Swans are visible in the open pools
Mississippi River Viewing Across from Cedar Ridge Resort on Wisconsin Hwy 35 4 miles north of Alma, Wisconsin Swans are visible rafting on the Mississippi River, this is a long distance viewing opportunity
Weaver Bottoms Confluence of the Zumbro and Mississippi Rivers in southeastern Minnesota. Swans can often be viewed from Minnesota Hwy 61 along the Mississippi River.