The Coon Creek Wildlife Management Area is along the Lincoln-Lyon County line and benefits from recently restored Waterfowl Production Area in Lincoln County. This complex is host to a heron-egret rookery, and has been the site of many rarities due to its size - including a Brandt in 2001, Snowy Egret multiple years, and a Lesser Scaup pair in July 2003.
DIRECTIONS: From Minnesota Highway 19, travel south for 6-7 miles. You'll see two basins, one on the Lincoln County side, one in Lyon County.
During low water times these basins are excellent for shorebird migration, as is the larger body of water (Coon Creek Marsh) in this complex that you reach by taking the curving 200th Street into Lyon County for about 3/4 mile. During high water times these basins are good for herons, egrets and bitterns, with the largest basin good also for larger waterbirds such as swans, American White Pelican, and Double-crested Cormorant.
Migration might bring Short-eared Owl through the large grassland area South of Coon Creek Marsh, while summer provides excellent nesting habitat for Least Bittern, Upland Sandpiper, Willow Flycatcher, Cedar Waxwing, and Sora as well as the numerous local ducks and sparrows. Clark's Grebe would be a good find here, as would Cinnamon Teal or Ross' Goose.
In the cedar plantings in both Lincoln and Lyon County portions of this be sure to look for Long-eared Owl or Townsend's Solitaire in migration, or nesting Cedar Waxwing. The drainage system connecting these basins is a great place to look for migrating Great or Cattle Egret, and would be a possible place to see a lost Little Blue Heron.
Public access to Coon Creek marsh give the canoeing birder a chance to search the rushes for grebes, rails, or Least Bittern, while a fall hike through the grassland could spring up LeConte's or Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow.
Written by Roger Schroeder