For many years a large green tank provided water storage for Indiana Dunes State Park. This tank was located atop a high dune near the western margin of the park and a stairway gave access to a viewing platform on the tank's crown. The platform provided a spectacular view of the surrounding dunes, beach, lake, and forests. The tank's apex also provided a superb point for observing spring hawk flights and was an excellent vantage point for studying longshore bird flights (Kenneth Brock's current research project).
The list of birds observed at this location is most remarkable. Well over 200 bird species have been reportedincluding an amazingly diverse list of rarities, which includes: Greater White-fronted Goose, Harlequin Duck, Red-throated Loon, Little Blue Heron, Northern Goshawk, Swainson's Hawk, Merlin, Willet, Upland Sandpiper, Little Gull, Iceland Gull, White-winged Dove, Short-eared Owl, Say's Phoebe, Western Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Cave Swallow, Townsend's Solitaire, Bohemian Waxwing, and Lark Sparrow.
During spring longshore flights the sky is often choked with birds. In addition to hordes of blackbirds peak daily counts of other species include 13,800 Cedar Waxwings, 3009 Blue Jays, 2570 Yellow-rumped Warblers, 2205 American Goldfinch, 1779 Lapland Longspurs, 600 Northern Flickers, 464 Baltimore Orioles, 418 Eastern Kingbirds, 282 Indigo Buntings, 20 Orchard Orioles, and 16 Pine Warblers. Clearly, the green tower site rests astride a major corridor for migrating birds.
In recent years the State Park converted to Chesterton water and in 2007 the green tank was disassembled and salvaged. The park administration is now committed to replacing the tank with an observation tower. The replacement tower is now being designed; it will be fully handicapped accessible. Height of the new structure will depend on the available funds. Construction is anticipated to begin in spring 2011.
We are currently raising funds for construction of the tower. Local birders have conducted a Birdathon, which raised more than $2000. The Potawatomi, Sassafras, and Stockbridge Audubon Societies have all made outright financial gifts. Additionally, The Flora Richardson Foundation, which supports natural science education, pledged $20,000 toward the construction. The Friends of the Indiana Dunes has generously agreed to serve as a conduit to collect and forward funds to the State Park. To support this effort contributions should be sent to:
Friends of the Indiana Dunes
P.O. Box 166
Beverly Shores, IN 46301
Specify that the donation is for the Flora Richardson Observation Tower.
Thanks ever so much for any support you might be able to provide.
Kenneth J. Brock
Updated December, 2010