Back when I was young most of the area by the river was dominated by the stock yards which besides being the largest in the world were also dirty and smelly. Now most of the area has been redeveloped and it now includes a nice 6.5 mile trail that runs along the river. Since the trail is on the other side of the railroad tracks you have to access it by an overhead walkway.
As winter takes a hold of this area many of the birds that rely on water to live migrate south looking for open water. Up until the end of December the Mississippi River bordering South St Paul was still open providing habitat for many of these birds. Bald eagles could frequently be seen flying low over the river in search of a fish or perched in the trees that line parts of the river bank.
Down in the water there were plenty of waterfowl swimming around looking for food. There were plenty of Canada geese and mallards dabbling in the water looking for vegetation as well as several different types of diving ducks like common mergansers and common goldeneye looking for fish.
The big excitement this year was the presence of a female long-tailed duck. These ducks breed up in the Arctic circle and usually winter on the Atlantic or Pacific coast. Occasionally one or two is found inland, where there is open water, and fortunately this time it was our turn. The river in South St Paul has now frozen up, we have had several days of sub zero temps in a row, and many of the birds have probably moved further down river near Hastings, MN / Prescott, WI where there is still open water.