Sunday, July 15, 2007

Birding and politics on a Saturday afternoon.

On July 11th I received an e-mail from the Minnesota Ornithologists Union about an upcoming rally at the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge on July 14th. The purpose of the rally was to show the state politicians, who were visiting the site, that they should help to fund a plan to replace the bridge. The bridge, which stretches across the Minnesota River, was replaced with a new bridge in 1979. It was closed to vehicular traffic in 1993 and to pedestrians and bicycles in 2002. As you can see by the picture below the bridge is in extremely poor shape.
So you may be wondering what an old bridge has to do with birding and the Minnesota Ornithologists Union, well this bridge extends through the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. This bridge was used by many birders to get a great view of the Minnesota river flood plains and mud flats before it became unsafe to use.
Now politicians in the cities of Bloomington, who currently owns the bridge, and Eagan, which is on the opposite side of the river, as well as several state politicians have put forth a plan to tare down the existing bridge and build a boardwalk platform on the existing cement supports. The problem is that the estimated cost is $4.5 million. A large part of that cost is for the removal of the existing bridge which contains lead so that it can not be knocked down conventionally. So far the supporters of the plan have secured $1.3 million in funding but still have a long way to go. That is why 200 or more people of all types (birders, bicyclists, hikers, and families) showed up on the 14th to show our support for this great cause. At the program, which began at noon, they had speakers ranging from local and state politicians, leaders of bicycle groups, neighbors, and leaders from MOU, Minnesota River Valley Audubon, and Minnesota Audubon.

I arrived at the park at 8:30am and spent my time waiting for the speakers program on the trails birding. The Old Cedar Avenue Bridge is a part of the Long Meadow unit of the Minnesota Valley NWR. There are a total of 8 units in MV NWR which follow the Minnesota River and stretch from Bloomington in the north to Jordan in the south. I walked all the trails north of the bridge. As I started from the bridge parking lot I saw an american redstart who had just caught itself some breakfast.
As I continued on I spotted several goldfinch near the bass ponds, which was once used to raise fish for stocking Minnesota lakes. This one was pulling the seeds out of the pods of the wildflowers when a bee ran smack into his head. Boy did he give that bee a dirty look.
Near the same pond I also saw this ruby-throated hummingbird.
I also saw several sparrow, some green heron, and some great blue heron. Then I went to the south of the bridge to check out the small boardwalk which goes out to the lake. There I saw a couple of great egret as well as tree and barn swallows.
I also took a couple of butterfly pics like this one of a common sulfur
and this eastern comma which looks like it had seen better days.
When I was walking back off the boardwalk I was startled by a white tail doe. She just sat and watched me as I walked past about 4 feet away.
This was the only deer that I saw which surprised me because on my trips to Fort Snelling State Park, which borders the park in the north, I have seen plenty of deer. It turned out to be a great morning and afternoon. I got out, did some birding and helped lend my support for a good cause.


Anonymous said...

i walked on the cedar was SO scary!!!

Anonymous said...

ok, heres the friends and one of thems dad went on a long walk in the long that we ended up on the road leading to the cedar bridge.we had to walk on it to get home or we had to walk all the way back and by the time we got home it would be like 10:00!!!!so, we had no choice, we had to walk on the friends and i were crying and we held each others was hard to get in it because it was all fenced but somehow we found a was really scary!!!