Jonathan Creek Embayment (Kentucky Lake)
Located in southern Marshall County, Jonathan Creek Embayment can be an excellent location for shorebirds, gulls, terns, and waterfowl. Most of the waterfowl are of the "marsh duck" variety. Fall, winter, and early spring are the best times for this location and the site is dependent on low water levels on Lake Barkley.
For this location to be good, water levels on Lake Barkley need to be near or at winter pool. When this occurs, a large mudflat, composed largely of sandy mud develops, attracting shorebirds. The shallow waters around the mud flat may contain American White Pelicans, waterfowl, gulls, & terns. A good scope is necessary to fully enjoy this location.
To reach Jonathan Creek, take KY 80 west to Mayfield from Aurora in SE Marshall County. Follow KY 80 a few miles until you see a boat ramp to the left. Continue past the boat ramp turn & and bridge crossing the creek. Park on the highway shoulder just beyond the No Parking signs. Walk down the highway fill bank and through the thin wooded area to the mudflat. If conditions allow, walk the mudflat. Look for sandy soils as you are less likely to sink where the soil is sandy. Obviously, you should be prepared to get muddy and be aware that duck hunters use the area during season.
After viewing the mud flat, it is a good idea to turn around and proceed east on KY 80 about 1/2 mile to a left turn to "Pirate's Cove" This is a "resort" that consists of an airstrip and mostly mobile homes and campers. Bear left at each opportunity to reach the water. There will be several locations where you can stop and scan the water for waterfowl, gulls, and terns. When the mud flat is extensive, parts of it can be viewed more effectively from here. "Pirate's Cove" is a private development. Birders have generally had no problem gaining access, however, If asked to leave, you should to so without argument.
Finally, the US 68 Bridge crossing near the mouth of the Embayment can be semi-productive for terns and waterfowl. A public boat ramp on the west side of the road provides ample parking.
-- Mark Bennett