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Kettle Moraine State Forest – Ottawa Lake

Kettle Moraine SF--Ottawa Lake Recreation Area

Habitat: Marsh, Sedge Meadow, Open Water, Southern Hardwood Forest

Best Birds:  This is a reliable spot to locate overwintering Northern Shrike, hear an Eastern Screech Owl, or find Purple Finch among scattered junipers.  The Fen has a small amount of spring-fed water in all but the harshest winters, making it a good place to check for Wilson’s Snipe, Winter Wren and Song or Swamp Sparrow.  Tamaracks that ring the Fen often attract winter finches in irruption years.

In early spring, there is an exceptional density of displaying American Woodcock.  The lake itself is a stopover for migrant waterfowl, and makes it a good place to find congregating swallows during inclement weather. 

Summer residents include Acadian and Great-crested Flycatcher, Warbling and Yellow-throated Vireo, Marsh Wren, Swamp Sparrow, Blue-winged and Hooded Warbler and American Redstart.  State-threatened Cerulean Warblers favor the tall deciduous trees in the campground near the walk-in campsites.

Directions:  From the intersection of Hwy 67 and Hwy ZZ, travel west on Hwy ZZ to the campground entrance and visitor center on the north side of the road.  Campsites # 334 and 335 are walk-in and provide access to both the prime woodland habitat and a footpath into the Fen. For access by canoe use the boat landing on the southwest side of Ottawa Lake. Or access the fen via the forest access gate on the west side of Hwy 67 just before the pet boarding property.

GPS Address and additional information:

Ottawa Lake Visitor Center

County Road ZZ, Dousman WI

Ottawa Lake Fen SNA

Hwy 67, Dousman WI

Ottawa Lake Fen State Natural Area - Wisconsin DNR

Southern Unit Kettle Moraine State Forest | Wisconsin DNR

Exceptionally easy access makes this site highly recommended to birdwatchers with limited mobility.  Driving or walking the paved roads around the lake to the boat launch, as well as, within the maze-like campground is an ideal way to experience the species that frequent the area.

Andrea Szymczak