Photo taken by Ryan Sanderson of a Double-crested Cormorant (example of a bird that can be seen at the reservoir)
J. Edward Roush Lake, a flood-control reservoir on the Wabash River, is surrounded by patches of woodlands, early successional fields, weedy fields, several small ponds, and agricultural areas. The Huntington Reservoir property extends for some distance east of the reservoir along the Wabash River. Although not a consistently good birding area, Huntington Reservoir has produced notable bird records, mostly in migration. Much of the area can be birded by car with only short walks.
The best vantages for loons, grebes, waterfowl, and gulls are: Little Turtle State Recreation Area (at the beach and the point just beyond the covered picnic pavilion at the east end of the recreation area), Kilsoquah Boat Launch and Markle Pond. Wading birds are best found at Markle Pond and, in the fall when the Wabash River is low, the South Wabash River Loop.
Shorebirds may be found on the beach at Little Turtle SRA (especially early in the morning before people arrive), at Markle Pond, and, in the fall when the Wabash River is low, along the sandbars visible from the South Wabash River Loop. It should be noted that the latter two locations do not consistently have low enough water in late summer and fall to attract shorebirds.
Little Turtle State Recreation Area is located on the east side of SR 5 about 100 yards south of the office. Arrowhead North parking area can be reached by going north from the office on SR 5, crossing the dam, and turning immediately left to the parking lot. There is a short trail along the river below the dam. Kilsoquah Boat Launch and Kilsoquah Campground can be found by going north from the office on SR 5, turning right (east) on US 24, and going about two miles to the entrance road on the right (south). The entrance road soon forks; continue straight ahead for the campground, turn right for the boat launch. Bird along the road and in the campground. About halfway between US 224 and the campground, a trail crosses the entrance road. This trail can be worthwhile, especially to the west. To reach the South Wabash River Loop, go south from the office on SR 5 to Division Road. Turn left (east) and go past the boat launch entrance to CR 100 E–a total of about 2 miles. Bird along the roads as you go south on 100 E for 1 mile, then east on CR 100 S for 2 miles. Turn north on CR 300 E. At the south bank of the Wabash River, turn left for a short distance to check the small dirt parking area, then turn around and go east along the river until the road ends east of I-69. There are several small pullouts from which the river may be viewed, plus trees and brush along the road. (CAUTION: the road along the river may be underwater or impassably muddy in the spring.) At the end of the road, turn around and retrace your route to the first road to the south, CR 375 E, and go south to CR 100 S. Turn west to return to your starting point. Markle Pond can be reached by taking SR 5 north to US 224, and then going east across I-69 to Markle, IN. Turn south on SR 3, cross the Wabash River, and turn left (east) at the first road across the river, CR 100 S. The pond is at this intersection. There is a parking area on 100 S just east of SR 5.
Typical Time to Bird Site: 2-3 Hours
The nesting species at Huntington Reservoir include the common waders, waterfowl, hawks, owls, woodpeckers, and songbirds expected in northeast Indiana. Loons, grebes, cormorants, waterfowl, gulls, terns, eagles, and some shorebirds and passerines occur in migration. Waterfowl and gulls remain as long as open water is available.
Huntington Reservoir attracts the largest number of migrating Double-crested Cormorants of any spot in northeast Indiana. Look for them in dead trees at Kilsoquah Campground (and in the area just east of here) in April and again September through October.
Little Blue Heron – Markle Pond and South Wabash River loop
Black-crowned Night Heron – Markle pond
Eurasian Wigeon – Markle pond
Surf Scoter – Reservoir
Black Scoter – Reservoir
Oldsquaw – Reservoir
Lesser Black-backed Gull – beach at Little Turtle SRA
Black-legged Kittiwake – Kilsoquah Boat Launch
Bell’s Vireo – Trail to west of entrance road, Kilsoquah Campground
GENERAL SITE INFORMATION
U. S. Army Corps of Engineers
Managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Division of Reservoir Management
Huntington Reservoir Office: 260-468-2165
State Park admission fees are charged at Little Turtle SRA, and sometimes Kilsoquah Boat Launch and Campground, during the summer. As of 2007, the daily admission fee for Indiana residents is $4 per vehicle Monday through Thursday, $5 Friday through Sunday and holidays; for nonresidents $7. Annual State Park passes are available for $36 resident, $18 senior citizen, $40 nonresident.
Outhouses are available at Little Turtle SRA, Kilsoquah Boat Launch, and Kilsoquah Campground.
Over 125 class C campsites are available at Huntington Reservoir. Additional accomodations can be found in nearby Huntington, IN.
Hunting: Most of the area outside the SRA and campground is open to hunting; wear hunter orange if walking offroad during the hunting season.
Insects: Mosquitos can be a problem in the summer.
Terrain: High water and muddy roads may limit access in the spring, especially to the South Wabash River Loop.
Spring and fall migrations are the best times to find interesting birds at Huntington Reservoir. Late February through early April and October through November are the best months for loons, grebes, waterfowl, and gulls. Terns are most reliably found in May and then again August through September. Waders, including the notable herons, occur mostly April through May and August through September. Shorebirds are irregular in May and July through September.
Goll, John. Indiana State Parks. Saginaw: Glovebox Guidebooks of America, 1995.
Keller, Charles E., Shirley A. Keller, and Timothy C. Keller. Indiana Birds and Their Haunts: A Checklist and Finding Guide. Second Edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986.
Seng, Phil T., and David J. Case. Indiana Wildlife Viewing Guide. Helena, MT: Falcon Press, 1992.
Indiana Department of Natural Resources – State Reservoirs
Select J. Edward Roush Lake to get information on activities, camping, lodging and fees, as well as trail maps and other maps of the reservoir.
Huntington and Wells Counties, Indiana
DeLorme Page 28, Grid G-4 to H-6
(Labeled “J Edward Roush Lake Project”)
GPS: 40º 50′ 10.64″ N
85º 27′ 48.91″ W
From the North: To reach the area office, take I-69 south to U.S. 224 (exit #86) near Markle, IN. Go west on US 224 to State Road 5 and turn south. The office is on the left (east) just south of the dam.
From the South: Take I-69 north to SR 5 (exit #78) and go north on SR 5 for about 8 miles. The office is on your right (east) just before you reach the dam.
From the West: take US 24 east to SR 9 on the west side of Huntington. Go south on SR 9 for about 3 miles and turn left (east) on Division Road. Follow Division Road for about 3.5 miles to SR 5 and turn left (north). The office is on your right in less than a mile.
Author: Jim Haw
Editor: Darel Heitkamp and Dick Patterson
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