DIRECTIONS: Follow the same directions as written for the Old La Grange Trail. When you arrive at the stop sign where Highway 132 crosses with J59 before you get to La Grange, turn right and go south for two miles. This road is now called La Grange Road. You will go over a small bridge that cuts over part of Dawson Lake. Begin to look for a wide pullover on the gravel shoulder to your right. The lake can be scoped fairly well from this vantage point. Unfortunately, there is no public access trail that enables you closer access to the shoreline of this lake. As with all birding done from a road, you must exercise due caution in choosing a spot for looking at this lake.
HABITAT: Dawson Lake is a private lake used for fishing. It is surrounded by oak savannah habitat.
BIRDS: There are few places along the road where you can bird, and only such expected species such as Rock Wren and Savannah Sparrow can be found there anyway. The real attraction of this location lies in the waterfowl species found during winter months. Any of the four grebes normally found—Pied-billed, Eared, Western, and Clark’s—may be here. American White Pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants have been seen here. Gadwall, American Wigeon, Mallard, Green-winged and Cinnamon Teals, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Common Merganser, and Ruddy Duck are possible. Although the bird is not “countable,” Mute Swan has been seen here. There is often a Bald Eagle perched on a snag overlooking the lake. When the lake margins have mudflats, there may be Greater Yellowlegs, Wilson’s Snipe, Spotted Sandpiper, and Least Sandpiper.
RARE AND UNCOMMON BIRDS: This is the most reliable location in Stanislaus County for Hooded Merganser. Occasionally a European Wigeon can be found with American Wigeons. Common Loon shows up once in a while, too.