County Seat: Atchison
County Size: 435 square miles
County Checklist: 261 species
DeLorme pages: 26, 27, 39 & 40
Google Maps of Atchison County
Best Birds: White-winged Dove (first nesting record in Kansas), Cerulean Warbler
Atchison County is located in northeast Kansas, along the Missouri River just south of the St. Joseph, MO area. It is probably under-birded simply because of it's location and location of potentially more well known spots nearby. It is located in the glaciated physiographic region with deep loess soils and significant stands of hardwood timber on the shores of the Missouri River. Being located in extreme eastern Kansas it may not receive the waterfowl and shorebird traffic of the central wetlands, but needs to be birded for passerine migrants in both spring and late summer.
Atchison SFL is a densely wooded lake located on the northern border of the county just west of K-7 highway. It takes a little while to get to from a main road. The east half of the lake is sometimes closed. It can be scoped easily from the dam, and has lots of camping and parking areas. For the most, the habitat is mature forest typical of this region fairly uneven terrain. The far west end of the lake has some trails through the woods and wetlands-ish habitat, good for sparrows and wrens. The lake is also pretty productive for warblers in the spring.
Benedictine Bottoms - A public hunting is located on the Missouri River. There is a parking lot, as well as roads that are usually gated off. Lots of brushy habitat and some trees, but not a dense forest at all. Excellent for sparrows and open grassland birds. Generally a pretty good variety of hawks hanging around as well. There is an extensive road system through the area that can all be walked. There are several areas you can access the Missouri river, and some wetlands units if the water level is high enough, producing good numbers of dabbling ducks in migration. This is a popular hunting location, so keep that in mind when birding.
Warnock Lake - Small lake located just to the southwest of the town of Atchison. The whole lake can be driven around with lots of public parking. It attracts a pretty good variety of dabbling and diving ducks, with some small wetlands on the west end. There is also a cemetery just to the east which has lots of mature conifers.
Independence Creek - This creek is located to the northeast of the town of Atchison, and has several accesses, all of which can be productive for woodland passerines. The best place to bird on this is at the east end of 314th road, which has a large parking lot, and a walking bridge that leads to a short trail that follows the river, as well as some tallgrass and overlooks agricultural areas. Usually the woodland bird activity is good here, and birds like Wood Ducks and Belted Kingfishers are very reliable.
Clear Creek Lake - A small wooded lake at the northwest end of the county, just to the southeast of the town of Horton. The lake can be driven around, and has lots of public area. It is very shallow and generally only attracts dabbling ducks, though often not even those. There is some pretty nice riparian habitat surrounding the lake, particularly on the east end.
Updated April 2016 - NV
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