Even without seeing a bird, a springtime trip to remote and beautiful Houston County would be worthwhile. But there are plenty of birds to see, attractively surrounded by rich river-bottom wetlands, quiet glens of spring creeks, and enveloping wooded bluffs.
The confluence of Wildcat Creek and the Mississippi River is a hotspot for early- and late-season shorebirds. Closer to Reno a wide portion of the river is visible, and several pull-offs provide safe views of the river bottoms. Huge rafts of Lesser and Greater Scaups and Canvasbacks gather here in November.
A few blocks north of Reno, on the east side of Highway 26, is the access to the Reno Bottoms. The public access gate is often locked, but you can walk down a trail onto the long dike that extends into the river bottom to the east. This is an excellent spot to carry-in a canoe and explore the backwater sloughs and floodplain forests among the many river channels; look for wading birds, waterfowl, woodpeckers, and warblers. Stick to the channels with current to avoid dead ends. Two public access points downstream provide take-out spots.
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