State Park camping? Usually not my thing, because the thought of crowded campgrounds is the antithesis of solitude I seek in nature. I found myself in prairie/farm country for Memorial Day Weekend, however, and Maplewood State Park was the closest thing to public forest land that I could find. ..and of all the days to seek solitude at a State Park… Memorial Day Weekend is probably one of the worse choices outside of winter time.

Still– I found an open reservation for a backpack site on the south side of one of the Park’s lakes. The other two backpack sites were more remote, but already reserved, so I settled for the one albeit far from the campground was also from private. A trail grazed the edge of the site, funneling horsebackers, bikers, and joggers right past my camp. On the other side, the lake, which fishing boats found to be a popular bay for bass and panfish. Too many people in the woods for me, but still better than a campground.

Fortunately, the birds and other wildlife still outweighed the people that occasionally passed by. My little campsite by the lake proved to be a great spot for birding. A brief list of species seen:

Eastern Kingbird
Common Yellow Throat
Yellow Warbler
Baltimore Oriole
Tree Swallow
White breasted nuthatch
Redwing Blackbird
Northern Shrike
Brown-headed Cowbird
Gray Catbird
Canada Goose
Trumpeter Swan
American Robin
American Redstart
Ruby-throated hummingbird

At night, I was startled by a beaver pacing in the lake out front of my camp and occasionally diving with a thunderous slap of his tail. The tree frogs and American toads thrilled a continuous chorus that sometimes harmonized and sometimes clashed with dissonance.

The next morning, I awoke to birds singing again, and then to the sight of a lady jogging the trail running past my tent. Then, later as I got out of the tent, I ignored the tubby chap who muttered sheepishly as he walked the trail past my site as I was fastening up my jeans getting dressed.

Oh, to be deeper into the wilderness and away from people… but it was good to be in the woods nonetheless.

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