Birding Site Guide to

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Edge Wade, 2017
6,018.86 acres Cooper, Morgan Co.  DeLorme 36, E/F-4/5
GPS: 38.7044049,-92.974745
MDC owned; for more information call 660-530-5500 or see

The area, with units north, south and east of Otterville, has five tracts in Cooper and Morgan counties, accessed from points along US 50 and Rt. A. A trip should be planned carefully with available time as a consideration, as much driving time is needed to get to all portions in one visit. Make sure you have a map with you.

A trip with a focus on some target species, or birding one or a few sections with desired habitat may be preferable, as this approach will allow enough time to bird on foot along one or more of the several trails. The area has such rich, varied habitats that exploring along the trails is highly recommended. 

Directions: Because of the size of the area, the distances from one tract to another, and especially because of the very different habitats encountered north and south of US 50, the directions are given in clusters within the “When to Visit/Species to Expect” section. All directions have US 50 at Otterville as a starting point. Birders coming to the area from the northeast (from I-70 for example) may want to begin in the northeast via Rt. A from MO 5. 

A short list of expected species is given for each county. Brief descriptions of what to expect follow the directions to some of the lots with the most productive birding opportunities.

If you decide to try to visit all parking areas in one visit, the route and direction of travel should be determined in advance to maximize the use of time and to ensure reaching the desired sections without much backtracking.

ADA Information: There are no facilities. Trails are not developed. Birders with difficulty walking will find some good birding from a vehicle or in the limited vicinity of the lots.

Features of interest to birders: The Lamine River is a transition stream formed at the confluence of Flat Creek and Richland Creek south of US 50. It bears features of prairie (now mostly farmland) from Flat Creek coming in from the southwest, and the gravel bottom pool and riffles typical of Ozark streams exemplified by Richland Creek joining from the southeast. 

Birders will see evidence of this “split personality” in gently rolling hill landscapes toward the north end, former (with some remnant) prairie rolling land toward the center, and more rugged, rocky woodland features in the south.

More than half of the area is cropland and old fields; a third is in forest and woodland. Old fencerows and draws provide some brush habitat. Small ponds dot the area. There is a very limited amount (287 acres) of non-prairie grassland. The geography of floodplain and steep bluffs with rolling uplands and Ozark-like savannah woodlands, especially in the portions south of US 50 surely harbor more species than are represented on the site list as of early 2017.

When to Visit/Species to Expect: The area has a wealth of riparian habitat, but no significant-size impounded water. The dearth of waterfowl, waders and shorebirds on the area checklist reflects this, but some of the lack is surely due to the limited number and timing of birding visits and limited exploration of the 258 acres of wetland areas like the ones accessible from Lot 17 to the south of US 50, Lot 12 in the center and Lot 3 in the north.

The eBird data, including printable checklists, are divided by county (Cooper and Morgan). Please note the county of your sightings when entering them into eBird. As an aid, the county is given beside the lot number below.

Be especially observant with chickadees. Both species have been reported at this conservation area. Although Lamine River CA lies a bit north of the contact zone as it appears in Robbins and Eastera’s 1992 Birds of Missouri, there have been many sightings indicating Carolinas may be moving northward, especially so in winter, but not limited to that season.

Yellow-rumped and Palm are the only non-breeding warblers species on the checklists. This is a clear indication that this is an underbirded area in spring and fall migration. Winter visits have been few.

Sparrows are fairly well represented, but the list should be longer given the habitats available. Additional gaps in the site list are certain breeders such as Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Scarlet Tanager.

The COOPER COUNTY list of expected species, in appropriate seasons includes Northern Bobwhite, Wild Turkey, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, Tree and Bank Swallows, Yellow-throated Vireo, Black-capped Chickadee, Sedge Wren, House Wren, Yellow Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Northern Parula, Palm Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Horned Lark, American Tree, Chipping, Swamp and Lark Sparows, Purple and House Finches, and Dark-eyed Junco. Great-tailed Grackle has been seen.

CLUSTER A (northern): Lots 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Lots 1 and 2 (Cooper Co.) are on Conservation Dr. north of Otterville. From US 50 go north on Rt. B and stay straight onto Conservation Dr. when Rt. B turns left (west) in town. North of town, keep left at the fork with Wildlife Dr.

To reach Lots 3, 4 and 5 (Cooper Co.), follow Conservation Dr. and take Wildlife Rd. Bear left at the next fork onto Deer Run Ln. This road ends at Lot 3 (the northernmost lot), so backtracking is necessary.

Lots 6 and 7 (Cooper Co.) are east of the Wildlife Rd./Deer Run split (lot 7 is just west of the Wildlife Dr./New Lebanon Dr. intersection.

CLUSTER B (central)

Lot 8 (Cooper Co.) on the east side of Rt. A can be reached by going south from the east end of Wildlife Rd. at the intersection with Rt. A, or by going north from the junction with Old Highway 50.

The area accessed from Lot 8 is mixed prairie with a riparian, wooded portion bisecting it north to south. A trail leads into it from the lot. In summer, listen for Bell’s Vireo, Field Sparrow and Dickcissel. Though not on the checklist as of late 2016, birders should look here for Henslow’s, Le Conte’s and Lincoln’s Sparrow—species that should find this habitat welcoming in the proper season. 

The area work station (Cooper Co.) is about midway along Coopers Loop. A drive around the building and/or a walk to the west can reveal several species.

Lot 9 (Cooper Co.) is on the west leg of Coopers Loop north of Rt. A, and can be reached from Old Highway 50.    

Lot 10 (Cooper Co.) is an access on the north side of Rt. A, along the west side of the Lamine River.

Lots 11 and 12 (Cooper Co.)(small lake) are reached from Game Dr., either by going along Oswald Rd. beyond Lot 13 or by turning south from Rt. A onto Game Dr.

MORGAN COUNTY species reported includes Wood Duck, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawk, all expected Missouri woodpeckers, White-eyed, Warbling and Red-eyed Vireo, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Wood Thrush, Louisiana Waterthrush, Kentucky Warbler, Northern Parula, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-breasted Chat, Field, Fox, Savannah, White-crowned, White-throated, and Swamp Sparrow, and Orchard Oriole.

Lot 13 (Morgan Co.) is just off the north side of US 50 on Oswald Rd.

Lot 14 (Cooper Co.) is north of US 50 on Otter Dr. (directly across from Lipton Rd. to the south.) The conservation area land along Otter Dr. begins at the county line and extends to the railroad crossing north of the lot.

Lots 15 and 16 Morgan Co.) are along US 50, immediately east of the highway bridge over the Lamine River. Lot 15 on the north side of the highway is easily missed; watch for it. This lot is in a low-lying, mostly wooded area with riparian corridor features. American Woodcocks display here in early spring. 

Lot 16 is at the river, so has much the same habitat, but with perhaps a little more potential for bird encounters. At both, in the appropriate seasons, expect Acadian and Great Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Warbling Vireo, Louisiana Waterthrush, Northern Parula, Common Yellowthroat and Kentucky Warbler.

Take Wildlife Dr. out the north end of Otterville to reach two clusters of lots. Take the left fork onto Conservation Dr. to get to lots 2 and 1 near the northwest corner of the area. Continuing on Wildlife Dr. and left onto Deer Run takes you to lots 5, 4, and 3, the latter at the end of the road. Staying right on Wildlife Rd. lots 6 and 7 finish out the lots. At Lot 7, you can go out along New Lebanon Drive or stay on Wildlife to connect with Rt. A.

CLUSTER C (southern): Lots 17, 18. 19. 20

South of US 50, Richland Creek south side (Lots 20, and 19): To reach the isolated tract along Richland Creek (Lot 20), take Potters Ford Rd. (to the north it is Morgan County Dr.) Follow the road as it turns east, crosses Richland Creek on a recently built bridge, then angles southeast and go right. To reach Lot 20, stay straight.

Lots 17 and 18 (Morgan Co.) are south of US 50, Richland Creek north/east side (Go south on Lipton Rd. (this road is Otter Rd. on the north side of US 50). Stay with Lipton Rd. to the T-intersection with Wildlife Dr. A right turn leads to Lot 17 (and Lot 18 beyond).

These lots and surrounding areas are very “Ozark-like” in terrain and vegetation. 

From Lot 17 an old field road network can be walked past field/woods ecotones, silo foundations, and a very small pond near the lot (watch for Wood Ducks). At the lot, keep an eye on the power lines and scrub below them

Lot 18 gives easy access to a trail along Richland Creek and through low-lying fields/wetlands. This is a very good area to watch for passerine migrants.

Toilets: None

Camping: There are four primitive camping areas with no amenities provided.  

Of the two camping areas north of US 50 in Cooper Co., one is at Lot 9 near the southwest end of Coopers Loop just off Rt. A (Old US 50); the other is at Lot 4 on Deer Run Ln., accessed from Wildlife Rd. coming out the north side of Otterville.

The site at Lot 19 is reached by going south from US 50 in Morgan Co. on the road signed as Morgan County Dr. north of the highway, and as Potters Ford Rd. south of US 50. Potters Ford Dr. turns right (south); stay straight to reach Lot 19. 

The fourth camping site is at Lot 17(see directions above).  Lot 18 is beyond it by road.

Hazards/Limitations: Richland Creek, Flat Creek and the Lamine River are prone to flooding, so much of the low-lying areas (especially those south of US 50) may be inaccessible for extended periods due to muddy conditions. The low water crossing on Wildlife Drive to reach Lot 18 is often not suitable for a sedan after rain.

This is an area popular with hunters. Expect heavy hunter presence during deer and turkey seasons.

Nearby Birding Sites: Manito Lake CA, Prairie Home CA, Bothwell Lodge SHS, Katy Trail SP.

Lamine River map