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.