Heron, Etc. at the Portage Lakefront & Riverwalk

✍️ 🕑 • Series: Go West, Young Lad • Tags: indiana dunes national parkdunesbird photographynational parksrivers • Places: Portage Lakefront


Image On Where-Is-Steve

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?


This railed-off pier is an excellent place to get splashed.
This railed-off pier is an excellent place to get splashed. open_in_full   info

Image On Where-Is-Steve
open_in_full   info

The Trails

If you read that quote a little more closely, you might notice something odd... it's access to the lakefront and trails.


Image On Where-Is-Steve
Trail Information
Name Portage Lakefront Riverwalk Trail
Type loop
Location Indiana Dunes National Park
State IN
Country USA
Miles 0.8
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.

An idyllic puddle.
An idyllic puddle. open_in_full   info
This former industrial site is right next door... to an active steel mill.
This former industrial site is right next door... to an active steel mill. open_in_full   info

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.

Some seabirds soar!
Some seabirds soar! open_in_full   info

The Birds

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.


Image On Where-Is-Steve
open_in_full   info

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. 😊


Image On Where-Is-Steve
open_in_full   info

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...


Image On Where-Is-Steve
open_in_full   info

...and a downy woodpecker, who for some reason, seemed to be engaged in pecking the twig upon which it perched.


Image On Where-Is-Steve
open_in_full   info
Perhaps the inspiration for Jeff Bezos's famous 'Your Move, Mr. Pecker' Medium post.... No, that's absolutely not even possible.
Perhaps the inspiration for Jeff Bezos's famous 'Your Move, Mr. Pecker' Medium post.... No, that's absolutely not even possible.

But after that, I got to see a heron, just chilling in a tree. Preening. Completely unaware how ridiculous it looks to me.


Image On Where-Is-Steve
open_in_full   info

Image On Where-Is-Steve
open_in_full   info

Image On Where-Is-Steve
open_in_full   info

From there I strolled back to the car, and I couldn't resist snapping one last bird photo before I departed.


Image On Where-Is-Steve
open_in_full   info

Next, I was off to cross two states... and then have lunch.

Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy these 5 similar posts: