Monday, November 17, 2008

My World: Old Cedar Ave Bridge

For this weeks edition of My World I would like to take you for a visit to a part of the Minnesota Valley NWR. The Minnesota Valley NWR is a 14,000 acre refuge that stretches 45 miles along the Minnesota River Valley from Bloomington to Bell Plain, MN. It is comprised of 8 different units, Black Dog, Bloomington Ferry, Chaska, Long Meadow Lake, Louisville Swamp, Rapids Lake, Upgrala, and Wilkie. The most visited unit in the refuge is Long Meadow Lake. The Long Meadow Lake unit consists of the 2400 acres of floodplain forest, ponds, marshes and bluffs surrounding the lake. Because of its size Long Meadow is typically divided by many of us who visit into several distinct areas distinguished by a unique landmark. My post is about one of these areas.
The Old Cedar Avenue Bridge still spans Long Lake and the Minnesota River, although it is closed because age and decay have made it dangerous to cross. This old corpse of iron and steel marks the area commonly called, and with good reason, the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge area. The road that once connected two thriving Twin Cities suburbs now dead ends into a parking lot where you can leave your car and hit the trails.
The trails wind around several ponds that have formed off from the river and lake. Some of the ponds, like this one, even have viewing platforms to allow people to get a little closer to nature.
The numerous ponds are home to waterfowl, like mallards, Canadian geese, and wood ducks during summer. During the spring and fall other types of waterfowl, like this American coot, often stop by while migrating.
During the warm summer months the ponds are also home to many fish and reptiles, such as this painted turtle who is trying to work his way up on to a floating log to get some sun.
The ponds are also a great place to find many different types of insects. In the early summer the air around the ponds are filled with pond dwelling dragonflies like this common whitetail.
As you head south, from the parking lot, on the Bluffs Trail don't forget to hang a left and head out onto the board walk that runs through the tall reeds of the flood plain and ends out on a viewing platform on Long Lake.
While on your way to the viewing platform it is common to see or hear common yellowthroat, rails, and red-winged black birds living in the reeds. From the viewing platform you can often see lots of waterfowl as well as wading birds, like this great egret, out on the lake.
As you continue south, on the Bluffs Trail, you will pass over streams and through marshes and floodplain forest as you begin to climb up the wooded river bluff.The woods are home to many birds and animals. Deers, squirrels, raccoons, and other mammals scurry across the forest floor while many birds, such as robins, redstarts, orioles, and yellow warblers like the one above, fly from tree to tree.
During the spring and fall the woods are even more alive as migrating birds, like this black-throated green warbler, stop to feast on insects and new growth.
Other birds, like this golden crowned kinglet, who may winter in the area leave for breeding territories further north as spring arrives.
If you instead decide to take trail that heads north, from the parking lot, you will find yourself circling around several of ponds and through some open fields. In spring and summer the fields become a painted canvas of blooming wild flowers. The bright yellows, pinks, purples and reds attract butterflies like this cabbage white.The flowers also attract several different types of bees, such as honey bees, green bees, yellow jackets, and bumble bees. This portion of the refuge ends at the new Cedar Avenue Bridges. The trail continues on underneath these concrete monsters over to the Bass Ponds portion of the Long Meadow unit but that is the subject of a future My World post.

24 comments:

Leedra said...

I love the turtle photo.

Richard said...

Great tour pictures. It's amazing sometimes what you can see it you slow down and open your eyes.

troutbirder said...

Neat hiking area Eco. It is a wonder that such areas are so near unto millions of people. Years ago I canoed near there with my brother who live near the Black Dog plant.

Arija said...

A superb post with so many wonderful birds and wildlife to see. How blessed you are to have such a marvellous resource to wander and photograph in.

marcia@joyismygoal said...

wow I agree the Turtle picture is such a find wow you are great

kjpweb said...

Great walk you took us on! Gorgeous images all the way!
Cheers, Klaus

Luiz Ramos said...

Great your World. Beautiful Nature.

ewok1993 said...

What can I say? Just beautiful. keep on doing what you're doing. I love the bridge.

Maria said...

What a great area, great for hiking! I love the picture of the egret best! Thanks for sharing!

Migs CFL fan said...

Outstanding shots, I loved the tour. Thank you.

Cheers!
Regina In Pictures

fishing guy said...

Eco: How could a nature guy not love to spend time at this wilderness nature reserve. You made some great captures in your travels.

Susan said...

Amazing portraits!

Thank you for the virtual tour of such a lovely place.

Jeanne said...

Beautiful spot. Thanks for sharing it with us.Love that turtle!

Shellmo said...

This tour was beautiful - so much to see and observe! The turtle was one of my faves too!

gina said...

love the turtle...and that egret is awesome...and that yellow warbler is so pretty...and love the bridge in last photo. what a wonderful place to spend some time and take photos.

AphotoAday said...

Great shots of a fantastic place...

The Good Life in Virginia said...

a beautiful array of photos...and the commentary was perfect. something to add to my list of places to see in this great place we live.
thanks for sharing...

erin

Wren said...

Lovely spot, lovely photos. It makes me want to get out my camera and binoculars and go birding!

Louise said...

What an amazing place. Excellent post with wonderful commentary and spectacular photos! Well done!

Chris said...

Simply an amazing blog where I discovered a lot of things... I'll come back...

2sweetnsaxy said...

Wow, wonderful post! So many great photos. The two that stick out in my mind are the turtle with that great reflection and the egret. Beautiful! Thanks for the tour and the great shots.

Mel said...

Your pictures are always sooo great!!
The are looks like a great place to visit, lovely turtle!

Lauren said...

I did an image search for "Old Cedar Avenue Trail" and never expected to find such a fantastic resource. Great job! I'll be going there this weekend :)

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