Located on US Highway 14 Lake Benton is the one of the largest lakes in Southwest Minnesota. The Lake can be scanned from many areas, but probably the best are on the South side of the lake. At the far Southeastern corner of the lake is a small Lincoln County Park called Stony Point. This is one of the better places to scan (especially on sunny days when the sun is at your back) for grebes, loons, ducks and other water birds in both spring and fall. This is certainly one of the best to bird because of its size.
DIRECTIONS: At the town of Lake Benton. Several vantage points as described below.
Although few rarities have been reported in recent years, that is probably due to lack of coverage and reporting what is observed. American Black Duck was seen here in 1998 and a possible scoter sp. in 2000. Along with Stony Point, another excellent spot to scan the western end of the lake is where the old Ballroom used to be.
From Stony Point go back to US Hwy 14 and turn West for 2.5 miles. Where US 14 curves to the south is an intersection with a gravel township road. The township road west for a 1/2 mile, then before the gravel road curves south, look for the small gravel driveway that goes under the wooden railroad bridge. Back in this area provides good viewing middle and western part of the lake. A public access is located at the West end of the lake for additional viewing, but before going there it may be worth taking a brief walk through the Memorial Cemetery, which is on the South side of US 14 at the top of a hill before entering Lake Benton.
This gem of a cemetery was home to at least one successfully nesting pair of White-winged Crossbills in 1996, and nest building pair of Pine Siskin. Also in 1996 five Spotted Towhee were reported, and more recently Red Crossbill have been seen here. Another area to scan Lake Benton - especially in the late afternoon with the sun behind you - is Norwegian Creek County Park.
Heading back the intersection of US Highways 14 and US 75 overlooking Lake Benton, turn North again on US 75 for about 1 mile to the road leading east to Norwegian Creek County Park on the shore of Lake Benton (the lake). Aside from being another good location from which to scan the lake, a couple backwater areas tend to hold pleasant surprises such as Eared Grebe, and Caspian Tern. In winter this area would seem a likely candidate for Northern Shrike, or perhaps a lingering Harris Sparrow. While you're there, don't forget to check the water for Common Loon, Caspian tern, or Osprey.
Written by Roger Schroeder