|Swan Lake WMA|
In the heart of-south central Minnesota is one of the best and largest wetland complexes in North America: Swan Lake. This 10,000-acre, relatively undisturbed marsh wonderland is a place to experience the diversity and beauty of prairie wetlands, as they once existed.<br><br>Serious habitat degra...
Chamberlain Woods SNA
|Description: Situated on the south side of town, Chamberlain Woods protects a mosaic of vegetation types fronting the Minnesota River.
This 302-acre Scientific and Natural Area (SNA) is a prime example of the river floodplain and adjacent hillsides. Chamberlain Woods is bounded on the west and north by the river. A series of "point bars" mark the old riverbanks, capturing a visual history of how the route has changed over time.
Bottomland wetlands predominate in the northern portion of the SNA. Giant cottonwood, basswood and elm trees reign in the seasonally-wet floodplain forest. The uplands support remnants of oak savanna, while slopes closer to the river display species typical of the deciduous forest.
Horace F. and Esther Chamberlain personally acquired parcels of woodland totaling 254 acres, then gifted them to the SNA program. You may wander through the open areas of the site or in autumn, follow a path near the river to do bird and wildlife watching and enjoy the waterway.
Wildlife to Watch: A variety of bird species, including the Acadian flycatcher, have been observed on the site. Surprisingly, 136 species have been recorded on this small unit. It is an excellent destination for viewing wild turkeys, and the mature forests support black-billed cuckoo, eastern wood peewee and six species of woodpeckers, including red-bellieds. In the oak savanna, look for eastern kingbird and eastern bluebird.
Listen for the gentle cooing of mourning doves. Tree, barn, cliff and bank swallows might all be spotted swooping for insects throughout the site. Among the warblers—yellow, common yellowthroat and the American redstart are the most likely to be seen or heard. Common sparrow residents include chipping, field, vesper and song sparrows. A red flash in the air will probably be a northern cardinal, but on a rare occasion, it could be a scarlet tanager.
Look for bald eagles soaring above the valley and red-tailed hawks searching the savanna for prey. Waterfowl and other waterbirds, such as great blue heron, may be seen on the river itself. Search for mallard and wood duck broods hugging the shoreline or foraging in quiet backwater.
White-tailed deer, raccoons, opossum and smaller mammals frequent the area. Watch for turtles basking on the old snags in the river and little snakes slipping through the grasses. Butterflies and countless insects may be observed on the flowers and grasses of the uplands.
Special Tips: The best times to visit are in the spring, to observe the dynamics of the river in this floodplain forest, and in fall, when the area is open and dry enough to walk for over a mile and a half along the river's edge.
Other Activities: None
Ownership: MN DNR
Size: 302 acres
Closest Town: LeSueur
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: