Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sadness at the Oxbow

I spent my alone time today at the Oxbow. It rained off and on while I was there, but I was too happy to feel the drops to complain.
The Oxbow is ringed with corn and soybean fields along its west side:

Field road at the Oxbow
The only good thing about the drought is that the roads in the Oxbow are drivable. In typical years, there are areas that will swallow your car. No joke.

Hollow but alive
This tree was hollow, but still alive. How do they DO that?
You can see the "old" shoreline in this picture.
dying and dead fish
And here is the new shoreline. Oxbow Lake is nearly dry.
cracked earth
Check this. Look at my feet...I wear size 8's, and the cracks are nearly big enough to twist an ankle.
big shell
Everywhere you look, unionid shells are laid bare. This one has a puddle of rainwater. I have seen these every time I visit the Oxbow, but today was like watching extinction. There is very little water for them to hide in. I read that they can make pearls, but the pearls are chalky and soft.
Black vultures
A flock of black vultures came in and chased off the murder of crows across the way. They wanted the fish and they got it all, too.
spotted maybe
Spotted sandpipers, I think.
I really think this was a Baird's sandpiper. They have been spotted here in the past week or so.
I miss my camera. It helps me with ID's. It can focus faster than my binoculars. And I can get better looks at things.
I couldn't walk more than a few feet without encountering a dead fish.
What lazy hunters leave
I wasn't aware that hunting was permitted in the Oxbow. That doesn't sound right to me. But the Conservancy's long-term plan include traditional use of the floodplain (hunting, fishing and farming). Oh, well. At least the hunters could pick their shit up, right?

I also saw a worm-eating warbler, yellow-rumped warbler, grackles, blue-winged teals, an unidentified "peep" ( I want it to be a sanderling!), double-crested cormorants, barn swallows, and the usual chickadees, cardinals and of course the very annoying killdeer.

I was happy with the birding today, but I left a bit down. The water level is so low, the big fish (I don't know, carp?) are forced to lay on their sides to get one gill under water to breathe. And the water is still shrinking. We need about a month of rain to get everything back on line.
I wonder how long the effects of this summer will last?


Mary said...

Susan, I feel it. It's bad. There is little life in these parts...ponds are dry and the lakes are too low. A town nearby has brown water. It will take 6 months or more to catch up.

The birds and bugs are few and I wonder if migrants will return to this desert town. The summer flowers have given up and it's just as well since we are not allowed to water anymore.


NatureWoman said...

Wah, Oxbow looks sooo sad. Those are some scary looking cracks there. But glad you got to see some bewds.

Dave said...

I wish I could send you some of our rain. I have mold growing on the side of my house that I'll have to pressure wash off before the cold sets in.