Indiana Dunes National Park isn't just home to the titular dunes. It's also home to wetlands which serve as a habitat for numerous local species.
One of these areas is the "Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk". Quoth the official copy:
It's an easy location to watch for migrating birds in the spring and summer [...] Visitors can enjoy easy access to the lakefront and trails that highlight dune succession.
So, how could I not want to go?
If you read that quote a little more closely, you might notice something odd... it's access to the lakefront and trails.
|Name||Portage Lakefront Riverwalk Trail|
|Location||Indiana Dunes National Park|
|Check out the trails index for information on more trails!|
Look at the map, and you'll note that the scenic river front provides visitors with a nice view... of the very nearby steel mill. And indeed, as the official copy notes:
The redevelopment of the site, formerly used by a steel corporation as settling ponds for industrial byproduct and a sewage treatment facility, is a successful model of brownfield reclamation.
So, on the one hand, it's really cool to get to view bird species at a former industrial site. On the other hand, even though this patch of land has been reclaimed & preserved, it still feels not unlike an industrial wasteland.
Couple that with the fact that the river boardwalk was abruptly closed partway through, and I certainly cannot recommend the area as an enjoyable walk.
As a place for birding, though, it is indeed pretty good, as promised.
At first, I was pretty darned disappointed with my choice of visitor center. I managed to do the entire non-riverfront portion of the walk with barely any birds in sight, other than seabirds and this one (field sparrow?) inside a bush.
But, once I walked so far south I was off the map, and turned around, things started looking up. Really up.
First off, I got to see some sort of yellow bird, a warbler I guess. I have some slightly blurry shorts of this little one in flight. 😊
Next off were a few birds that I'm used to seeing around Pennsylvania, though perhaps not with idyllic blue skies and great lighting.
A boring ol mourning dove...
...and a downy woodpecker, who for some reason, seemed to be engaged in pecking the twig upon which it perched.
But after that, I got to see a heron, just chilling in a tree. Preening. Completely unaware how ridiculous it looks to me.
From there I strolled back to the car, and I couldn't resist snapping one last bird photo before I departed.
Next, I was off to cross two states... and then have lunch.
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