Summit Lake State Park

This state park is located in east central Indiana near the city of New Castle. It is a one hour drive from Oxford taking US 27 north to Richmond to I 70 west. Follow I70 west to the next exit (US 35). Go north on US 35 to US 36 and turn left. Go approximately five miles and the park entrance road will be on the right. Follow this into the park. It would probably be a two hour drive from Cincinnati. Here is a suggestion, take I 74 west to SR 3 north. Follow SR 3 through New Castle to US 36. Turn right on US 36 and go approximately five miles and the park entrance road will be on the left. I don’t know if this will be quicker than going through Oxford, it is just a suggestion.

Established in 1988, this state park is a 2780 acre mixture of woods, wetlands, and grasslands. In addition, it has an 800 acre lake and three waterfowl management ponds which really bring in the waterfowl. The lake itself is a good place to start and it will be apparent as soon as you enter the park. Scan the lake and surrounding shoreline for waterfowl. OLDSQUAW, EURASIAN WIGEON, and ROSS’S GOOSE have been reported during the winters of 95-96 or 96-97. Around the lake are several grassland areas which should not be overlooked during the spring, summer, and fall. The lake usually maintains a break in the ice during the winter months which concentrate the waterfowl.

To get to the waterfowl management ponds, go back to the gate house and exit the park. Take the first left (CR 600N). Follow this to 500E and turn left. You will soon be on a bridge with the lake on your left and one of the ponds on your right. Scan the pond for waterfowl. Also, on the left is a good mudflat area which draws shorebirds during the spring and fall. Continue on 500E to the next intersection (750N) and turn right. Another pond will be on your left with the one you just looked at on the right. Five TUNDRA SWANS were using this pond in late November and early December 1995. There is another pond (Pintail Pond) about 1/4 mi. further on 750N.

The field on the northwest quadrant of the intersection of 500E and 750N is a great place to look for SHORT-EARED OWLS during the winter months. During the spring, summer, and fall, look for grassland species. If you follow 750N west, it will take you past a lot of scrub habitat and you will eventually find yourself looking at the lake again from the back side. This is another good vantage point from which to scan for waterfowl. A NORTHERN SHRIKE was present in this area during the winter of 95-96. This is a great area to just drive around and look for wildlife. There is not much traffic and you can stop at will.

Be sure to check with the visitor’s center upon arrival to pick up a map and a bird checklist. Also, if you ask, they will tell you if any uncommon birds have been seen and where they are. The employees are very friendly. This is a great park to drive around and explore at your own pace. If walking is something of interest, they have a small trail system through woods and grasslands near the lake (check map for details).

Here are some birds that might be of interest (From the park’s checklist):

Little Blue Heron: Uncommon Spring and Fall
Least Bittern: Uncommon Spring and Summer
Tundra Swan: Uncommon Spring, Fall, Winter
Snow Goose: Uncommon Spring and Fall
Rough-legged Hawk: Uncommon Fall and Winter
Virginia Rail: Common Spring and Summer
Sora: Common Spring and Summer
Common Moorhen: Uncommon Spring-Fall
Western Sandpiper: Uncommon Spring and Fall
Red-headed Woodpecker: Common all year
Willow Flycatcher: Common Spring and Summer
Marsh Wren: Common Spring and Summer
Sedge Wren: Uncommon Spring and Summer
American Pipit: Uncommon Spring and Fall
Bobolink: Common Spring and Summer
Dickcissel: Common Spring and Summer
Purple Finch: Uncommon all year
Savannah Sparrow: Common Spring-Fall
Grasshopper Sparrow: Uncommon Spring and Summer
Lapland Longspur: Uncommon Winter
Snow Bunting: Uncommon Winter