Eureka Nature

For posting information about natural history events in and around Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lake Leatherwood after the flood

Mar 23, 2008

I made a trip out to Lake Leatherwood on Sunday morning, primarily to see what damage and changes had been done by the flood the previous Tuesday and Wednesday. There was over six inches of rain mostly in less than a day. The newspaper had pictures of water through the flood gates of the dam, and preliminary warnings had been delivered to downstream flood plain residents.

My first stop was the bird blind to see if there had been any structural damage, but there was none, we had built it well, and the water had only been high enough to leave some flood wrack over the pathways, and to strip some of the chips off the paths that suppress the mud. Maybe a twenty dollar fix there, and a little shovel and broom work. Naturally all the creeks were running, so I went from the blind up the Beacham trail to see what had been shifted around. The flood had apparently covered the whole bottom-land, and had moved or made new piles of flood trash, and had cleared a lot of ground of dead plat material, leaves and such, so there was a lot of new bare dirt exposed. Probably wrecked a lot of wren nests, but had also made lots of new places for more. I'm curious to see if any Bewick's Wrens will take advantage of new preferred habitat.

All the Beacham bridges had been shifted until they rested against trees, except the high bridge which is built on stone pillars, and which was undamaged, but it seems like several upstream trees had their rootballs undermined and had fallen into the creek. The inlet end of the lake had already started to clear, but the main body was muddy from the goose island onward. I was surprised that the cat-tail beds looked fine, and only areas that had died back more than a couple of years ago seemed to have been scraped and re-arranged. Those beds will have stopped a lot of silt, and will be emerging for willow tree rooting as soon as the lake drops a little. The beds of Eurasian Water-milfoil had survived pretty well also, but I suspect that a lot of new rootlings have been spread out in the lake and probably downstream as well. A couple of narrow channels had been cleaned up pretty well, not completely, and I could see some minnows and shiners where they had seemed to disappear for the last several years. I need to get someone out there that can do good IDs on them to figure out what's really happening.

A few migrant birds were about. There was one brown swallow, but I never got a good look, it seemed chunky, and might have been a Bank. There was one male Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and a lot of Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Also a first Louisiana Waterthrush, bobbing away. Wildflowers are very thin still, a scattering of Harbinger-of-Spring, a couple of just starting to bloom Bloodroots, some buds swelling on the Spicebushes, but not much else.


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