2 Park Blitz – Indiana Dunes and Potato Creek

April 17

We left early Sunday morning on April 17 to head up to Indiana Dunes State Park to continue our birding big year and our State Park “Big Year.” It was a beautiful day with the sun shining and temperatures that were around 77 degrees.

Dunes Hiking

We went on Trail 10 hoping to go to the Trail 2 boardwalk. This is one of our favorite hikes here in the park. Last year, we were not able to take it because a beaver had built a dam and flooded the boardwalk. We had heard from another birder at Celery Bog that it was possible to walk on the boardwalk even though it was flooded.

Unfortunately the bird observation deck on the trail was in horrible repair and we were not even able to go on that. That was a huge disappointment. We have spent quite a bit of time there in the past looking out over the wetlands and finding many different species of birds. The steps were broken and the path to it underwater. Just in really bad repair.

I guess the Brown Creeper is no longer a nemesis bird as I saw about 6 or 8 of them along this trail!!!

We were not able to walk on the boardwalk as the trail to it was very muddy and underwater. So that was another big disappointment.

Dunes Swamp Sparrow

WARNING: EDITORIAL TO FOLLOW: I thought since this is a very popular park, they might keep better care of the facilities, but I guess the park system is failing throughout Indiana. You would think that in celebrating the park system’s centennial they would have tried to spruce them up a bit, but I guess if there is no money, it’s not happening. I don’t know what the answer is, but I hope someone figures it out before we lose the fight.

Dunes Magnolia Warbler

We ended up walking back to the nature center on Trail… It was a pleasant and enjoyable hike and felt good to be out in warm, sunny weather. All three of us got a bit of sunburn, even though we were in the woods, the leaves weren’t out much!

IBBY New Species:

  • Oregon Junco
  • Swamp Sparrow
  • Hermit Thrush
  • Magnolia Warbler

By the time we left the park, the entrance was backed up. The busy season had begun.
Our +1 park was actually the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore which counts in the IBBY list. We had some really neat encounters at one of the wetlands. We were just going to walk to a viewing platform and a beaver was actively swimming and working just a few yards from us!!! We were overjoyed at seeing this. I love beaver and that was one of the reasons we were hoping to walk on the board walk at the state park. That and my new nemesis bird the American Bittern. (grrr)

Dunes Lakeshore Great Marsh Trail Beaver

We also saw a Sandhill Crane on a nest! The eggs were very much in sight. We had a very close look at them.

Dunes Lakeshore Great Marsh Trail Sandhill

IBBY New Species:

  • Cattle Egret
  • Pied Billed Grebe???

We drove on towards South Bend for the evening where we spent the night and had a wonderful hamburger at Taphouse on the Edge.

April 18

ROC wanted to see the Studebaker Museum, so we had a late start on Monday morning as the museum didn’t open until 10. We enjoyed our time, although we could have spent another couple of hours there. We were able to tour Copshaholm, home of J.D. Oliver, son of the inventor of the Oliver plow and president of the company. What an amazing house!

Potato Creek Osprey nestOur next park was Potato Creek State Park. It is a really nice park and we were able to add quite a few new birds to our list and enjoy many “old” birds. It was another sunny day with the temperature topping at 84 degrees. This is another great park that I would love to spend more time in. Most of the parks one could easily spend a week and still not enjoy all the wonders it holds. This park is in line to get a new inn at some point. I’m sure its close proximity to South Bend will make it a very popular inn.

We drove around first as we do at most of the parks just to get the “lay of the land” and see where we want to hike. We were able to see an osprey on the nest on a nesting platform with at least 2 babies’ heads poking up in sight.

We walked the Friends Trail, which is not a long trail, but it took us forever as we just kept seeing neat birds and the flowers were blooming profusely. We also hiked on Trail 3 where we enjoyed seeing new species.

Potato Creek Great-horned Owl nest

Potato Creek Great-horned Owl nest2

IBBY New Species:

  • Osprey
  • Great Horned Owl (on nest)
  • Rusty Black Bird
  • Myrtle Warbler (Yellow-rumped)
  • Broad Winged Hawk

Potato Creek Rusty Blackbird

Flowers in bloom were:

  • Hepatica
  • Squirrel Corn
  • Yellow Violet
  • Yellow Trout Lily
  • White Trout Lily (didn’t know it came in white)
  • Cut leaf tooth wort
  • White Violets
  • Rue Anenome
  • Wild Phlox
  • Large White Trillium

This was another really great weekend of visiting our state parks and birding and botanizing. I was also able to pick up 5 total IMN volunteer hours picking up trash at the parks.

Potato Creek Tree Swallow

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