Site Details

descriptions and directions

Cottonwood Marsh photo by Peter Burke

John Martin Reservoir State Park - Bent County
Aliases: Hasty, Lake Hasty, Caddoa
Ownership: None Listed
Description: The best places from which to scan the actual reservoir are the dam, the north side of the lake near the visitor center, or from the south side, reached by a confusing maze of roads. The north side is off limits during the fall through early spring, and the south side is off limits during the spring and summer (to protect the Piping Plovers and Least Terns that nest here), so plan your attack strategy accordingly. When driving along the southern edge, be careful of the many sand traps that exist along the roads. When and if you do actually reach the reservoir, you can expect some truly awesome congregations of ducks and geese here during the fall and winter, as well as amazing flocks of gulls. Over the years, practically every expected species and a few unexpected ones have been found here.

The South Side of John Martin also has some good migrant traps, but most are inaccessible during the spring migration and earlier parts of fall migration. Finding them is no piece of cake, either. Your time is better spent at the north side migrant traps.

The area around and below the dam, on the east side of John Martin, is now technically part of John Martin State Park, but is typically referred to as the Lake Hasty Area. The first thing you'll see when coming down the road from the town of Hasty towards the dam are the small ponds, one on either side of the road, near the road to the dam. They can be chock full of ducks (sometimes more so than the entirety of Lake Hasty). Scaled Quail are often seen in the grassland areas just above the campground. The rocky areas here have also produced Greater Roadrunner (though not often) and Rock Wren.

Lake Hasty Campground is made up of lots of trees of various sizes but zero undergrowth. For some reason, despite the lack of undergrowth, this is a good spot to look for unusual eastern migrants, and many a great surprise has been found (e.g., Black-billed Cuckoo, Hermit Warbler, Painted Redstart), so keep an eye out. This campground is especially well known for the resident Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Eastern Bluebirds, which can usually be found on a thorough search.

Lake Hasty itself is usually not the most productive of lakes, but sometimes has some diving ducks on it and cormorants on it. Surf Scoter and both swans have shown up, and you might look for Least Tern here in late summer. The river just south of the lake is lined with willows and other vegetation and may be worth a look, especially in the winter when some of the only open water around is found here. The Corps of Engineers Headquarters, just across the river from Lake Hasty, has some trees and a thin hedgerow that may contain some interesting species, and possibly owls in the winter.

The town of Hasty just north of the campground and lake complex has a small cemetery with some conifers that may also contain owls in the winter, and maybe a migrant or two in season. Usually nothing of interest is seen here. The "town" of Caddoa, to the south of Lake Hasty, sometimes has coveys of Scaled Quail, but little else.

Habitat: Pond/Lake/Reservoir, Marsh, Hedgerow/Shelterbelt, Grassland/Prairie, Tamarisk
Directions: The John Martin Reservoir complex is south of US 50 between the towns of Las Animas and Lamar. To get to the dam, head east on US 50 from Las Animas to the town of Hasty and go south about two miles to the dam. For more specific directions to sites, see the text above.
Other Wildlife:
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CBRC Records from John Martin Reservoir State Park

SpeciesAccession No.Date(s)
Surf Scoter2004-0795/1/2004
Black Scoter2001-13412/27/2001
Black-billed Cuckoo2004-0425/7/2004
Ruddy Turnstone1997-0265/30/1997
Ruddy Turnstone1999-0388/14/1999
Ruddy Turnstone2000-0325/6/2000
Red Knot2000-0359/4/2000 - 9/10/2000
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper2000-03610/3/2000 to 10/7/2000
Black-legged Kittiwake2000-0641/19/2000 - 1/22/2000
Laughing Gull2000-0477/7/2000
Laughing Gull2008-152 9/8/2008
Short-billed Gull2008-141 12/16/2008
Glaucous-winged Gull2008-147 12/22/2008
Great Black-backed Gull2001-15312/27/2001
Great Black-backed Gull2008-140 12/16/2008
Arctic Tern2014-141 09/17/2014
Red-throated Loon1997-0045/10/1997
Red-throated Loon2000-0015/21/2000
Red-throated Loon2014-100 07/07/2012
Magnificent Frigatebird2020-073 5 Nov 2020
Neotropic Cormorant2001-0204/8/2001 - 4/9/2001
Neotropic Cormorant2005-112 10/30/2005
Neotropic Cormorant2009-056 7/18/2009 - 7/25/2009
Brown Pelican2016-027 04/23/2016
Reddish Egret2001-0777/20/2001
Reddish Egret2010-121 8/18/2010 - 10/7/2010
Reddish Egret2014-038 08/21/2013
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron2009-078 7/31/2009
White Ibis2001-0546/2/2001
Black Vulture2004-0838/13/2002 - 8/14/2002
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher2006-032 4/16/2006
Vermilion Flycatcher34-94-475/13/1994
Gray-cheeked Thrush1998-1065/8/1998
Wood Thrush2008-149 5/3/2008
LeConte's Sparrow56-90-7312/2/1990 - 3/6/1991
LeConte's Sparrow56-91-8411/9/1991
LeConte's Sparrow2000-1542/3/2000 - 2/26/2000
LeConte's Sparrow2001-0821/15/2001
LeConte's Sparrow2002-11612/20/2002
LeConte's Sparrow2014-115 01/03/2003
LeConte's Sparrow2014-116 03/18/2004
Eastern Towhee2002-11512/20/2002 - 3/16/2003
Chihuahuan Meadowlark2016-061 06/27/2016
Eastern Meadowlark2017-008 02/05/2017
Worm-eating Warbler1998-1345/8/1998
Cape May Warbler2015-054 05/06/2015
Blackburnian Warbler1997-0865/17/1997
Yellow-throated Warbler2001-0314/15/2001
Prairie Warbler52-94-705/7/1994
Painted Bunting56-80-45/22/1979
Painted Bunting1997-1055/17/1997
Painted Bunting2000-1605/7/2000