Thursday, July 11, 2024

Review of The Riverlands

River Barge


Just north of St. Louis, Missouri the Mississippi and Missouri rivers combine.  This confluence is fun to see and on a warm summer day, I took a trip there with my granddaughters who were visiting from New Hampshire.  The photo above shows a barge waiting on the Mississippi to get through the lock and dams.

The Riverlands

The Riverlands is a 3700 acre migratory bird sanctuary that is located in West Alton.  This area is home to prairie land, wetland and forest habitats where both resident and migratory birds find refuge.

More than 300 different species of birds have been seen in this area.  Many species make their homes there and other stop for feed and rest as the migrate down the "Mississippi River Flyway" spring and fall.  It is said that over 60% of all North American migratory birds use this flyway.

The Riverlands is open to the public from sunrise to sunset each day.  It is a fantastic place to observe and/or photograph birds.  The area offers 8 miles of walking and hiking trails and also offers bicycle trails.

Audubon Center at the Riverlands

Our first stop when we entered the Riverlands was the Audubon Center.  Here you can find lots of information and displays about both the birds and the Missouri and Mississippi confluence and how it affects the ecosystem.  This center offers educational opportunities, as well as information on conservation.  It has several platforms for public viewing and scopes that take you into the middle of the Mississippi flyway to observe migratory birds.  The wall facing the Mississippi is made of glass and gives you a wonderful way to view birds all year round in all types of weather.

When we visited it was mid June, so of course there was not much to see in the way of migratory birds, but a very helpful volunteer took the girls out to the side of the center to tell them all about the "Purple Martins" that lived there.  Here are a couple of photos.
Audubon Center Birds

Purple Martins at Audubon Center


 The volunteer pointed out how the birds were feeding their babies. It was very interesting.

Confluence

The volunteers at the center suggested we drive up the road a bit and stop at the path that takes you to the confluence of the Missouri and the Mississippi rivers.  We decided to do that and took the path which was about 1/3 of a mile long.
Walking on Wooded Path

The Mississippi River is called the "Father of Waters". On it's path north from the Gulf of Mexico, it drains 32 US states and two Canadian Provinces.
The Missouri River is the longest river in the US.  It starts in southwestern Montana where the Rocky Mountains are and then flows east and south for 241 miles before it enters the Mississippi just north of St. Louis.
Here is a photo I took of the confluence.
Confluence of two rivers

Story from our Visit

While we were there, we took photos on a platform that faced the two rivers.  It was my brother and his wife, my two granddaughters and myself.  After the photo my 15-year-old granddaughter, Kate, decided to take a closer look at the Mississippi and found herself stuck in mud almost to her knees.  A nearby fisherman ended up pulling her out, but her shoes did not come with her.  My brother took some big sticks and was able to get the shoes out, so we had Kate sit on a platform by the confluence and wash out her shoes.
Washing Shoes in Mississippi

It would be good if that was the end of the story, but you can see by this photo how muddy it was and when Kate finished washing her shoes, she put them back on and in two steps they had sunk in the mud again.  This time my brother could not get them out, so Kate lost her shoes to the "Muddy Mississippi".  She walked back to the car barefoot and we took bottles of water to try to get some of the mud off her feet.  So now we have a story to tell from our adventure.

Here is a link to an Amazon Book if you'd like to learn more about the Mississippi. https://amzn.to/3RNqkyd



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


5 comments:

  1. It was so fascinating to learn about the Riverlands, Mary Beth. I knew that when I drive from Kansas City to see my daughter in St. Louis, I first cross the Missouri River and then the Mississippi River is just past where she lives. But I had no idea that the confluence area was just north of St. Louis. Actually, I did not know that the Missouri and the Mississippi ever joined. Really interesting. Thanks so much for telling us about it in story and pictures form. Judging by Kate's shoe misadventure on the river bank, the name 'Muddy Mississippi' is aptly named! :)

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  2. Oh, poor Kate! I am so sorry she lost her shoes to the Mississippi, but it certainly did make for an interesting adventure. In years to come, she will lovingly remember sinking in the mud, but I doubt she had very "loving" thoughts at the time. I knew when you said the Riverlands were a refuge for birds that you would love being there. The color of the Martins is quite fascinating. If I have seen Purple Martins before, I did not see the color contrast. Very pretty indeed! Sure glad you included a picture for us.

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  3. I have no doubt that, as an avid birder, you loved spending time at this huge migratory bird sanctuary! I really feel for poor Kate and her lost-to-the-mud shoes.

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  4. My brother is moving there soon; his wife is from St. Louis - I was actually there for their wedding a year and a half ago, although it was all wedding stuff - it was winter, and we did go skating. Had a lot of fun.

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  5. This sounds like a lovely place to visit and a great learning opportunity for young and old! Watching birds is a wonderful pastime and I'm sure a good pair of binoculars would be a great accessory for this type of trip. Thanks for bringing it to my attention! Another pin in my road map for the future!

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