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South Dakota Birding"Hotspot"

Lake Vermillion Inlet

Latitude 43° 37' 58.22" North, Longitude 97° 9' 49.13" West

259th street in far eastern McCook County comes to a T-intersection as you are heading west towards Lake Vermillion. Right near this intersection is a gravel road that heads west, down towards the lake. This is the entrance road to the inlet area of Lake Vermillion. This is where the east fork of the Vermillion River flows into the lake. It starts out as a narrow stream, but gradually broadens as it inters the lake. Where the stream meanders around on the north end of the Lake, the water is surrounded by sometimes very wide expanses of cattails and wetland vegetation. The shallow water and wetland vegetation can be excellent for wading birds (Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Green Herons, and I've also seen Black-crowned Night Herons here). Dabbling ducks can be thick here in migration, while the wetlands also hold the typical summer breeding ducks. Marsh Wrens are...everywhere, while I've also found Sedge Wrens on some of the more upland, wet meadows near the inlet.

The photo below shows the inlet to Lake Vermillion. This was during the spring of of the wettest springs we've ever had in this part of South Dakota. The water is substantially higher than normal, but you can still see the typical habitat of this area, with the cattail marshes adjacent to the water.

Lake Vermilion - McCook County, South Dakota - Birding Hotspot

The photo below shows the gravel road as it parallels the east side of the lake near the inlet. Just upland from the lake itself are some pretty thick stands of eastern red cedar, some pines, and sumac and other bushes. There are also areas of tall deciduous trees in some areas near the road. Check the trees for songbirds in migration, while in the winter months, I've found Long-eared Owls roosting here.

Lake Vermillion Inlet - South Dakota Birding Hotspot

A very common sight in the marshes around the Lake Vermillion inlet, a Great Blue Heron takes flight with a freshly caught bullhead.

Great Blue Heron - Ardea herodias

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Please mail any comments/suggestions/additional links for this page to: Terry L. Sohl