Livingston County Lakes

Best Bets for Migratory Waterfowl

Lake Chemung is located just north of Grand River Ave. between Brighton and Howell. There is a small park about 2 blocks east of the Howell Grand River exit from I-96 (exit 141) that allows access to the lake. This is one of the last large bodies of water to freeze in the county with at least limited access for viewing (a scope is recommended). Over the last few years the lake has produced ROSSíS GOOSE in December, TUNDRA SWAN and SURF SCOTER in early January and a good assortment of both bay and puddle ducks. Early spring produces COMMON LOONS and HORNED GREBES. Due to the heavy population surrounding the lake and the associated boat traffic, there is little to see from mid May until mid September.
Thompson Lake is another large lake contained completely within the county. Like Chemung, it is bird worthy only in early spring and late fall when there is minimal boat traffic. Most waterfowl has been observed on the lake including COMMON LOONS, PIED-BILLED and HORNED GREBES, all three merganser species, most bay and puddle ducks. FORSTERíS and CASPIAN TERNS have been observed during spring migration as well. The best vantage point is the Lake View Cemetary
To get to the cemetary, head north on D-19/Michigan Avenue from the I-96 exit at D-19/Michigan Avenue (exit 137). After about 1 mile you will cross Grand River Avenue in the center of Howell. Keep heading north on Michigan Avenue. Madison Street will be in about 7 blocks (6th street on the right) from the intersection of Grand River and Michigan Avenue. Turn right on Madison. Proceed to the end of Madison were it makes a 90-degree turn to the right at North Roosevelt Roads. The entrance to the cemetary will be straight ahead at the turn. Proceed to the back of the cemetary along the lake were there is a parking area at a point of land were the entire lake may be viewed with a scope.
Whitmore Lake is located on the Livingston/Washtenaw County line with the north section of the lake being in Livingston County. Although this lake has heavy watercraft use in the summer months, early spring and late fall can yield some good birds. Recent finds include FORSTERíS TERN and BALD EAGLE. Past records include one of the few MBRC accepted records of TUFTED DUCK. The DNR boat launch area on the west side of the lake is the most reliable spot in the county for PURPLE MARTINS. There is a homeowner just north of the launch area that has a large colony in their back yard on a yearly basis.
To get to the DNR boat launch, exit US-23 at 8 Mile Road/Main Street (exit 53). Head east on 8 Mile/Main Street just east US-23 (about 300 feet from the center of the freeway) to North Main Street. Head north on North Main Street for almost 1 mile until you see the signs for the DNR boat launch on your right.
Portage Lake, like Whitmore Lake, is split by the Livingston/Washtenaw County line. The north end has produced WHITE-WINGED SCOTER in the past and more recently has supported TRUMPETER SWANS in the late fall. Viewing access to the lake is a problem. There is an open area at the end of Fox Pointe Road that allows for limited scanning access. The end of this road next to the lake is marked as residence only, please scan from just prior to this entrance point so that the local residence are not disturbed. At best this vantage point will only allow for minimal lake viewing.
From US-23 exit at M36 (exit 54) and proceed west on M36 for a little over 8 miles to McGregor Road. Fox Pointe will be about 2 miles south on McGregor on your right (west).