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The Dewey Gevik Nature Area and the adjacent Wall lake are in western
Minnehaha County, west of Sioux Falls. From Sioux Falls, 12th street
headed west out of town turns into Highway 42. It is also called "265th
street" in rural areas. Drive west out of Sioux Falls, about 6 miles from the
edge of town. You'll arrive at an intersection with a gas station on the
southwestern corner, at county highway 151 (also known as 463rd avenue).
Drive one mile south, and turn right (west).
On this road you'll pass the south side of Wall Lake. The beach area, and
a small residential area are here. To get to Dewey Gevik, continue
driving west for one mile. Turn right (north) and Dewey Gevik will be on
your left after about 1/4 mile.
Geographic Coordinates: 43.531726° N, 96.970086°
W (coordinate of entrance to Dewey Gevik Nature Area).
Wall Lake is a large natural lake west of Sioux Falls, covering a little
over 200 acres. Given the proximity to Sioux Falls, it is a popular
recreation area, and also is surrounded by many single-family homes. A
small beach area on the south end of the lake is a very popular hangout in
the summer, and the area can be relatively crowded (by South Dakota
standards) on a weekend. The Lake is primarily open water, with a few
scattered wetland (cattails) areas around the lake margins. The lake
is over 30 feet deep at its deepest point, making it one of the deeper
natural lakes in the area. There are scattered groves of trees around
the margins of the lake, including a treed peninsula that juts out into the
lake near the fishing dock.
Dewey Gevik Nature Area is adjacent to Wall Lake, just to the west.
A small creek connects Dewey Gevik with Wall Lake, entering Dewey Gevik on
its eastern edge. Dewey Gevik overall covers about 100 acres. The
central park of the nature area is a shallow lake, surrounded by herbaceous
wetland. Water levels fluctuate significantly at Dewey Gevik,
depending upon seasonal rainfall and time of year. Expanses of open water
are always found in parts of the nature area, but Dewey Gevik has large
areas of marshland, shallow water, and sometimes mudflats that attract a
variety of birds. A walking trail leads a hiker past not only the
aquatic habitats, but into upland grassland habitats that can sometimes
provide good birding.
Points of Note (Click on numbers on the map to see
photos of the locations):
There are many scattered wetlands and ponds in western Minnehaha County.
I'm not sure Dewey Gevik Nature Area necessarily holds any more birds than any
other wetland complex in the area, but the primary advantage from a birder's
standpoint is access. It's very close to Sioux Falls, has a parking lot
right next to the road, and has walking trails that lead past all the good
birding spots. Without a doubt though the biggest advantage for a birder
is the permanent birding blind that was constructed. The blind sits on a
small man-made peninsula on the southern edge of the water (Point
1 on the map). With water on all sides of the blind, it allows for
excellent viewing opportunities for waterfowl and other aquatic birds.
Upon first arriving at the blind, your movement into the blind will likely scare
most waterfowl away from the blind itself, but your patience will be rewarded.
After a few minutes in the blind, the birds will forget about the human intruder
that interrupted them, and you can often get extremely close views of waterfowl
that are otherwise extremely skittish and hard to approach in a hunting-happy
South Dakota. I would guess that half of the very high-quality waterfowl
photos I have ever taken have been from the blind at Dewey Gevik.
When I bird Dewey Gevik, I spend most of my time at the blind itself, or
poking through the wetland vegetation. However, there are are also
some nice hiking trails (Point 2). The
trail itself doesn't get too close to the wetland habitat or water, so if
you're after aquatic species, the trail isn't the best option.
However, the ~1 mile of trails does go through some nice grassland habitat
that can be good for grassland species. There are also a few shrubby
areas and tree groves that can hold songbirds or other surprises.
At the adjacent Wall Lake, the first place I always look is the beach (Point
3), at least outside of the summer season. In summer, on a nice
afternoon or weekend, the beach will be crowded. But during spring and
fall migration, the beach is empty, and it is often very birdy. The
Sioux Falls dump is only a couple of miles away, and during migration,
hundreds or thousands of gulls are often streaming back and forth between
the lake and the dump. In scanning the flocks of gulls, you never know
what rarity might show up. The shallow water and sandy beach also can
attract shorebirds in migration.
Finally, one other place I usually check out at Wall Lake is a little
peninsula (Point 4) that sticks out
into the lake near the boat dock. The peninsula is covered with trees
and shrubs, and I've sometimes had truly wonderful luck seeing songbirds
here, particularly during spring migration. One spring day was nothing
short of a full-blown fall-out of migrating warblers, of many different
species. The point also tends to give you better looks at waterfowl
than you might find elsewhere on the lake. With deeper water adjacent
to the point, it's a location where I've been able to watch foraging loons
in migration, quite close to the shoreline.
Birds of Note:
The big attraction for the Dewey Gevik / Wall Lake area
for me are the aquatic species. Wall Lake itself is the largest open, deep
water lake in the Sioux Falls area, while Dewey Gevik's blind offers you great
opportunities for close viewing of waterfowl and other aquatic species.
Nearly any species of waterfowl that can be found in eastern South Dakota may be
found here, including some that can be difficult to find elsewhere in the
region. In addition to the variety of dabbling and diving ducks that can
be found on both Dewey Gevik and Wall Lake, I've often seen
Common Loons at Wall Lake in
migration. American White
Pelicans can often be found here in migration by the dozens or even
hundreds. Wading birds stalk the shallows in both areas, with Dewey Gevik
often holding Green Herons,
Great Blue Herons, and
Great Egrets. Hidden among the
cattails you may find an American
Bittern, and Dewey Gevik is the only South Dakota location where I've
glimpsed a Least Bittern (one
glimpse...a nemesis bird for me!).
With the city dump so close to Wall Lake, both the open water of the lake
and the dump itself attract thousands of gulls in migration.
dominate, with Franklin's Gulls
often also found by the hundreds. However, it's also a great place to
look for potential rarities.
Gull, Glaucous Gull,
Thayer's Gull, and other gull and tern species have also been seen here.
When I bird around Wall Lake and Dewey Gevik, I'm primarily looking for
aquatic species, but the scattered trees and shrubs also can hold a variety
of songbirds. The grassland trails at Dewey Gevik offer an opportunity
to see the common grassland species of the area.
Other Birding Locations (sorted by distance):