This large reservoir just west of Lawrence has several public parks along its shores and birders can find pockets of specialized habitat all around the lake. The tower along the dam has a pull-off area that allows for excellent views of the shoreline and center of the lake. The road below the dam is bordered by open fields that are attractive to raptors. This road also leads a model airplane flying field and wet prairie restoration. Bloomington Park on the southwest shore also has good views of the lake and the marina area and swimming beach attract shorebirds and roosting pelicans and gulls.
General Habitat: Reservoir, shoreline, park lands, open fields
Main Species: Waterfowl, gulls, raptors, shorebirds
Notable Species: Bald Eagle, Osprey, Short-eared Owl, Common Loon, Horned and Eared Grebe, Franklin’s Gull, American White Pelican
Best Time to Go: The lake attracts birds year-round with spikes in activity during the spring and fall. The large size of the lake means that particular species accumulate in exceptional numbers. In the fall, birders can see 10,000s of Franklin’s Gulls or American Coots as they migrate. Overwintering ducks can often be seen in large rafts floating in the middle of the lake. In the winter, the flying field/wet prairie is a good spot for Northern Harriers and Short-eared Owls. Migrating Wilson’s Snipe, Le Conte’s Sparrows, and Nelson’s Sparrows can also sometimes be flushed out of the wet prairie area.
Directions: Travel west on Clinton Parkway and turn south on E 900 Road to reach the dam. The flying field is below the dam, south of the golf course, on N 1200 Road. To Bloomington Park: From the dam, travel south on E 1000 Road and continue following the paved road as it jogs its way west, eventually becoming N 950 Road/E 251st Diagonal Road. Turn right on N 851st Diagonal Road and continue through the town of Clinton to reach the park.