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Ni River Park, located on the southeastern edge of the Ni River Reservoir, provides a boat landing nestled within a small patch of hardwood forest and a series of open fields clogged with brambles and wildflowers. The park provides clear views of the southern end of the reservoir, making it an ideal place to scan for waterfowl. In addition to Canada geese, species to be on the look out for include double-crested cormorants, pied-billed grebes, American coots and a variety of ducks. The reservoir’s muddy banks host numerous killdeer, as well as great blue and green herons; other wading birds could drop in from time to time.
The woods around the boat landing are home to common resident species of woodland birds including northern cardinal and downy woodpeckers. The area could also attract warblers, vireos and other neotropical migrants in spring and fall. The large area of weedy fields east of the woods hosts numerous song sparrows, joined by Lincoln’s sparrow, which comes through in migration, along with yellow-breasted chat and common yellowthroat. Brown thrashers are an uncommon resident and much less bold than their northern mockingbird cousins.
This combination of habitats is great for butterflies. Search for showy species like eastern tiger swallowtails and viceroys as well as the subtle beauty of diminutive eastern tailed-blues and the uncommon harvester.
Leaving Loriella Park, return southeast 1.1 miles on Rt. 639/Leavells Road to SR 208/Courthouse Road. Turn right (west) and go about 1.9 miles to Rt. 628/Smith Station Road. Go right (north) on Rt. 628 and follow it 2.4 miles to Rt. 627/Gordon Road. Turn left (southwest) and go 1.4 miles to Ni River Park.