Hardy Lake is a 745-acre reservoir formed from the dammed waters of Quick Creek, a tributary to the Muscatatuck River. Located in southeastern Indiana, Hardy Lake and its associated Hardy Lake State Recreation Area comprise a 1,700-acre complex that is quite diverse in avian habitat. Wetlands, ponds, and mudflats augment the reservoir in providing habitat for waterbirds, while conifers, deciduous woodlands, brush, and grasslands provide upland environments for songbirds.
Once entering the park through the main gate, continue for 0.4 miles on the main park road to where you turn off to the right toward the Beach.Drive toward the beach and park in the lot beside the bathhouse. This is a good location from which to scan the lake, which is best done with a scope. Be sure to walk around and check both the shore to the left and the marshy inlet and brush to the right.
After scanning the lake, return to the main park road, turn left, and drive about 50 yards to the small parking area on the right side of the road, marked “Trail.” Get out and walk the trail around the edge of the lakeshore, which meanders to the west, then to the north, then to the west again. Be alert to the various habitats that you will pass through: lake inlets, young forests, brushy fields, and marshy lake borders. After about 1.5 miles, you can turn around and retrace your steps back to the parking area (recommended for those without a compass or a good sense of direction), or you can walk off of the trail in a southeast direction for a shorter, more direct route back to the beginning of the trail. On this trailless route you will pass through weedy fields, a pine plantation, and more young forests.
Leave the SRA through the main gate and continue south to CR 300 E (Harrod Road), then turn right (west) for 0.7 miles to CR 550 N (Whitsitt Road). Go north on Whitsitt Road for 1.4 miles to Oard Springs Road. Turn right (east) and drive for 0.8 miles to the parking lot with the sign ” Oard Springs Wildlife Unit Overlook Area “. This parking lot is located at the north end of the dam on the northwest corner of the lake. A small marsh located at the east end of the parking area is usually dry and birdless. Walk south onto the large grass-covered earthen dam and scan the lake with binoculars and a telescope. From the middle of the dam, walk down onto a jeep track and continue west for 0.1 miles to a developed marsh, which is sometimes productive but can be dry.
Typical Time to Bird Site: 2-8 Hours
BIRDSOverview:Many of the regular southern Indiana permanent residents inhabiting field and brush environments can be found at Hardy Lake. Breeding birds include Mute Swan, Mallard, Red-shouldered Hawk, and Song Sparrow. During migration in the spring and fall, ducks, grebes, coots, gulls, and several sparrow species can be found. Osprey and Bald Eagles are occasional.
Specialty Species:Red-shouldered Hawks nest at Hardy Lake and are present from early spring through mid-summer.
Noteworthy Records:Red-necked GrebeMute SwanSnow Goose – (09-Feb-1995)Blue-winged Teal – breeding pairRuddy Shelduck – (18-Nov-1999) – Probable zoo escapeSora – breeding pairBaird’s Sandpiper – (03-Sept-1985)Black VultureSnow Bunting – (18-Nov-1999)
GENERAL SITE INFORMATION
State of Indiana / Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Dawn to dusk year-round.
In the summer, a daily entrance fee is charged. Please check the current fees on the Hardy Lake website.
Restrooms are available at the Beach and the Boat Launch.
Over 150 class A and class C campsites are available at Hardy Lake SRA.
Hotel, motel, and bed and breakfast accommodations are available in nearby Scottsburg and Madison.
While Hardy Lake can be productive at any time of year, October through March seems to be the best time for migrating and wintering birds. Try to avoid weekends during the warmer months.
REFERENCESGoll, 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.
Author: J. Dan Webster
Editors: Darel Heitkamp and Dick Patterson
Scott & Jefferson Counties, Indiana
DeLorme Page 52, Grid H1; Page 59, Grid A7
GPS: 38º 46′ 36.74″ N
85º 41′ 32.38″ W
From the North or South Take I-65 into Scott County in southeastern Indiana. Exit east onto SR 256 (exit #33) in the northwestern part of the county. Continue east to SR 203, some 5.3 miles east of the town of Austin. Instead of turning right (south) onto SR 203, turn left (north) onto Hardy Lake Road, and drive for 3.8 miles to the main entrance of Hardy Lake State Reservoir.
From the East or West Take US 50 into Jackson County in southeastern Indiana. Exit south onto I-65 (exit #49) in the eastern part of the county. Continue south on I-65 to SR 256 (exit #33) in the northwestern part of Scott county. Exit east on SR 256 and continue until reaching SR 203, some 5.3 miles east of the town of Austin. Instead of turning right (south) onto SR 203, turn left (north) onto Hardy Lake Road, and drive for 3.8 miles to the main entrance of Hardy Lake State Reservoir.
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Indiana Audubon Society's mission is to stimulate interest in birds and their protection; to serve the needs of youth, civic, church, schools and other groups by providing information concerning birds; and to educate the public concerning the necessity for conserving and preserving Indiana's natural heritage, its unique flora and fauna.