County Seat: Seneca
County Size: 717 square miles
County Checklist: 238 species
DeLorme pages 25
Google Maps of Nemaha County
Best Birds: Neotropic Cormorant (2011), Ruff (2009)
Nemaha County is located in northeastern Kansas, bordering Nebraska. It is in the region of the state known for its rich deep fertile loess soils and for being part of the glaciated physiographic region. A very rural county it is cut with many creeks and streams, varying topography, and increasing tracts of timber owing to the higher average rainfall than much of the state. The agricultural land is roughly 1/3 pasture and 2/3 crops. US-36 highway runs east and west through the northern middle of the county. US-75 runs north-south along the county line in northern half of the county. K-63 highway runs north and south through the county and several other state highways serve as connectors to the smaller communities of the county.
1. Nemaha Wildlife Area – The site of a former state fishing lake. The collapse of the spillway structure doomed the lake in 1986. The area is still maintained as a wildlife area and wetland. The area is certainly worth investigating, especially in wetter periods as a Ruff was found here in 2009.
To reach the wildlife area, go south from Seneca on K-63 about 4½ miles. The area is on the east side of the highway. Several locations on the north and east side of the area hold old recreational facilities and allow access to the wetlands and wildlife areas. Residences along 116th Rd should be checked for hummingbird feeders in summer and seed feeders in winter. Good timber areas can be found in this area and really throughout Nemaha County. In dry periods this area will likely hold no water but should still be investigated for other species of birds.
DeLorme: 25: F7
2. Centralia City Lake – Two miles south and one mile west of the town of Centralia is a very good lake that serves as the water supply for Centralia. This roughly 400 acre lake is one of two good water bodies in the county that need to be investigated for waterfowl. Being a fairly new lake it is surrounded primarily by grasslands/cropland with very little timber to be found. In spring and fall the lake can hold large numbers of waterfowl and the grasslands surrounding the area should be checked for sparrows. Le Conte’s Sparrow can be found here regularly in the fall. The main access point is from the east on 72nd Rd. Work your way around the lake on the county roads for different views of the water surface. Depending on where you access the lake, there may be a small day use charge.
DeLorme: 25: G6
3. Sabetha City Lake – Unlike the relatively young Centralia City Lake, Sabetha City Lake is an older more established area containing excellent stands of timber in the area. To reach the lake you will drive west on 192nd Rd. which goes along the north side of Sabetha. The lake property and access start about 4½ miles west of the northwest corner of Sabetha. The first area that you will reach is where Deer Creek enters the lake. This is a large marshy area that can be very birdy. Like all wetlands in Kansas it can be somewhat seasonable, but seems to hold good birds regardless of the water levels. Large stands of trees are attractive to passerines. A dirt road turns in here and can provide access to the southern/southeastern part of the lake but be forewarned that this road should be avoided when it is wet! A few hundred feet further west is an entrance to the lake recreational areas. This road travels along the north shore and can provide an excellent view of the lake surface. As you exit this area on the west end, near the dam, the road drops down below the dam and over a low water crossing. This area of timber can also be worth your time. As you continue around the lake on this road you will come up the southwest side of the dam and lake. Where the county road turns south, turn back north for an access to the south side of the lake and a different view of the lake surface. Again, excellent timber in this area is worth your investigation.
DeLorme: 25: D8/9
4. Farm ponds/county roads – Farm ponds are scattered throughout the county. With the two larger lakes available, they are probably not as critical for finding waterfowl for your county list though. While there are roads on nearly every section line, many of them are only minimally maintained and can lead to some exciting travels if you use them in wet or snowy conditions! Throughout the county you can encounter some nice timber stands along the roads and they are worth at least a quick stop and listen, especially in migration.
5. Towns – Seneca and Sabetha are the two major towns in Nemaha County. Both have cemeteries that can be checked for birds. Seneca has sewer ponds on the southeast corner of town. These have limited visibility but are worth at least a quick stop. Several other small communities: Wetmore, Goff, Corning, Centralia, Baileyville, Bern and Oneida can be investigated for feeders if you are passing through.
6. River/Creek Crossings – Much of northeast Kansas has a wealth of small streams and creeks. While the bridges on the county roads that cross these bridges can give us a chance to observe the bird life there, they aren’t as critical to giving us timber access in northeast Kansas as they are further west. There are many creeks in Nemaha County and many county road crossings. Those that hold exceptionally good timber should be checked out.
Nemaha County is yet another county in Kansas that has not been heavily birded. Being blessed with two accessible lakes allows it the opportunity to host good waterfowl numbers. Birders are encouraged to take in Nemaha County and one of the surrounding counties on a day birding trip soon.
Updated March 2013 – CEO
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