The LaPorte Lakes lie immediately northwest of downtown LaPorte, Indiana. Although they're an integral part of the city and its neighborhoods, they are still relatively healthy, and represent one of the best locations in the state for observing loons, grebes, and ducks during spring and fall migrations. This is especially true during inclement weather when birding is most comfortably done from inside a car.
The LaPorte Lakes are an important refuge for lingering winter ducks when the ice begins to melt, usually in early March. In late March and April, Common Goldeneye, Greater Scaup, and Bufflehead are gradually supplanted by Horned Grebes, Lesser Scaup, Redhead, and Canvasbacks--all interspersed within flotillas of thousands of American Coots. Single or pairs of Common Loons are reliably noted in the deeper waters of the lakes in April and May. Gadwall, American Wigeons, Ring-necked Ducks, Northern Shovelers, occasional Black Ducks, and many Blue-winged Teal are prevalent until late May when warmer weather and speed boaters take over Pine Lake.
Pine Lake is the largest of the lakes and is readily observed from its eastern edge (along Pine Lake Avenue), and its south/southwestern edge (along Waverly Road). If one is considerate of private residences, the northwest and southwest areas of the lake can be more closely viewed via Island Drive, which leads out to a peninsula from the west along Houlton Road. Houlton Road is west of the lake between Waverly Road to the south and Pine Lake Road to the north.
Stone Lake, a smaller fishing lake with restricted boating speeds, is located just south of Pine Lake. It can be viewed from several locations, including Soldier's Memorial Park on the north and east, Lakeshore Drive along the south and southwest shorelines, and a public fishing ramp and parking area at the southwest edge of the lake. Another public parking area can be found at the rustic north edge of Stone Lake, just off of Waverly Avenue near the short connecting canal between Pine and Stone Lakes. A public trail, which extends from the Soldiers' Memorial Park picnic shelter eastward to homes on the far northwestern edge of the lake, can be productive for woodpeckers and kingfishers. Occasionally, Osprey and hawks can also be seen here.
Clear Lake is located on Truesdell Avenue just east of McDonald's. This shallow lake is completely surrounded by public roads, making it very easy to access. As such, it is a wonderful spot for observing migrating ducks, grebes, and occasional loons. Over the years it has produced some unusually large counts of species--including over 320 Ruddy Ducks and 150 Pied-billed Grebes.
Fishtrap Lake, located on the northeast corner of Clear Lake, can be viewed (with some difficulty) along its southwest border from McClung Road. Large numbers of Ring-necked Ducks occur in the spring and fall, and Black Terns can often be seen in the spring.
Horseshoe Lake, which is probably better described as a lily-pad-covered pond, is located just to the north of Fishtrap Lake along Severs Road. Severs Road is about 0.25 miles east of SR 39 and about 1 mile east of the intersection of Pine Lake Avenue and Johnson Road (at the northeast corner of Pine Lake). The best access to Horseshoe Lake is from a diagonal railroad crossing that extends in a northwest direction from Severs Road to the western edge of the lake. This lake is best known for hosting the last reported Black Tern nest in Indiana (1997).
Typical Time to Bird Site: 2-3 Hours