Dickinson County

County Seat: Abilene
County Size: 852 square miles
County Checklist: 255 species
DeLorme pages 36 & 49

Google Map of Dickinson County

Best Birds: Swallow-tailed Kite (1883 – nesting record), Snowy Owl (2012)

Dickinson County is located in central/north-central Kansas. It is bisected by I-70 and the Smoky Hill River. Geographically it lies just east of the Flint Hills region and represents the transition from the Flint Hills to the true Great Plains topography. Open water can be a limiting factor for Dickinson County birding. A very small portion of Milford Lake spills over into extreme northeastern Dickinson County. In the southeastern portion of the county Lake Herington and Herington Reservoir, just two miles west of the town of Herington probably offer the best waterfowl, gull and shorebird opportunity other than Milford Lake. Numerous farm ponds across the county are a hit and miss chance at holding waterfowl. Remnants of the Flint Hills spill over into extreme southeastern Dickinson County. Extreme southwestern and northwestern Dickinson County exhibits some of the Smoky Hills topography from central Kansas. The rest of the county is dominated by a mix of crop and pasture land. Throughout the county small rural cemeteries are common sights and can offer good, albeit sporadic birding depending on the presence of evergreen trees.

Birding Locations:

1. Milford Lake – In the extreme northwest corner of the county lie some of the fringe areas of Milford Lake and its large public use areas. At conservation pool a very small portion of the Curtis Creek arm of the lake extends into Dickinson County. Around this area are some good public access lands. Tulip Road is an unimproved dirt road that should not be driven in muddy conditions, but can hold some good passerines.  From I70, take Exit 286 and drive north on Rain Road. In 3 miles you’ll cross K18 highway and in another 4 miles you’ll reach what’s left of the town of Upland. Turn right (east) here on 3400 Avenue and continue 2½ miles. The road will turn south and this is Tulip Road. It is only a mile long but gets you into some of the best public access land area of Milford Lake in Dickinson County. In high water times the lake will extend over this road. Where 3400 Avenue turns south into Tulip Road you can park and walk east to access the lake.
: 36, G4

2. Herington City Lakes – Just west of the town of Herington are two reservoirs that serve as water supply sources for Herington. Head west out of downtown Herington on Main Street. After crossing the railroad tracks Main jogs south and becomes W. Walnut Street. Continue west until Walnut dead ends and turn left (south) on Union Road. In a short distance turn right (west) on 500 Avenue. In one mile you’ll come upon Lake Herington (Old City Lake). If you stay on 500 Avenue just a little further you’ll go around the north end of this lake and soon come upon Sage Road and a mile further Rain Road. Head south on Sage Road to access the east side of Herington Reservoir (New City Lake) or go south on Rain Road to access the west side. The Old City Lake has numerous residences around it and a road that runs very close to the lake. The New City Lake has no residences around it and access isn’t as easy. There is a good vantage point on the east side of the lake, near the boat ramp, that is good for scoping the reservoir for waterbirds.  Several other access points occur further south, on the east side, that are worth investigating. A small arm of the lake crosses under Rain Road and can provide close access to mud flats in low water conditions. The south end of both reservoirs contains some good timber areas that are worth checking for passerines.
DeLorme: 49, D9

3. Rock Springs 4-H Center – In east central Dickinson County, where Geary, Morris and Dickinson Counties meet, is the Rock Springs 4-H Center. This private camp and conference center can be accessed with permission. Check in at the office first or call ahead for permission. April/May and September probably offer the best birding opportunities. As its name implies, it is an active camp and from the first of June through mid-August the sound from the many camps that take place here can make it difficult to hear anything else. Many of the good passerine records for Dickinson County come from this area. The administration building is actually in Geary County but most of the camp is in Dickinson County. To reach Rock Springs, travel south from I70 Exit 295 on US77 8.3 miles and turn right (west) on K157 Highway. Follow the signs and you will reach the administration building in about 4 miles.
DeLorme: 49, A10

4. Abilene – Abilene is an old cow town with a rich history of cattle drives, cowboys and President Dwight Eisenhower. A couple of areas in town are worth investigating. Abilene Cemetery is on the northwest corner of town. The main entrance is on NW 14th Street a few blocks west of K15 Highway. At the south end of town, on the east side of K15 is the Dwight Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. The spacious grounds are worth exploring and a good place to find Mississippi Kites in the summer.
DeLorme: 36, I2

5. Brown Memorial Park is located just south of Abilene.  To access the park, take K15 south out of Abilene for 1.5 miles and turn East on 2000 Ave.  Follow the curve in the road past a residential house and a large senior citizen's home to the main park entrance.  Many birds can be viewed in the shrubs and trees at and around the entrance to the park.  There are three parts to the park: a boy scout camp, the main park, and a church camp.  All three are open to the public during daylight hours.  Special permission is required to access the park before dawn or after dusk.  Turkey Creek runs through the park, and it is a mix of open areas and woodlands.  The roads throughout the park are paved and many birds can be seen from a vehicle. There is also a nature trail in the park that gives access to more remote areas of the park.  There are three homes inside the park area and birds can be seen at feeders near those homes through binoculars from the road.  There are several bluebird houses in the park, with many nesting pairs using them.
DeLorme: 49, A7

Updated April 2016 - CEO & JP

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