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Life at Boomer Lake with Deb, Thursday May 22, 2014

Updated on May 22, 2014
Gulf of Mexico in 2010
Gulf of Mexico in 2010 | Source

Field Notes

The Gulf Oil Spills

I’d like to discuss the Gulf oil spill that occurred in Spring of 2010 involving BP. The land and water still has not been restored, but it was known at the time that it would not be an easy fix. Or at least those of us that have been involved in working oil spills knew it would not be a simple matter to return nature to normal. Let’s face it, 200 million gallons of oil in water will not mix or dissipate when those millionaires snap their fingers. Simple chemical principles dictate that that is an impossible feat, for oil and water do not mix. If they did, we’d have pristine waters all around the world, AND we’d no longer be dependent on the black gold.

Just this past spring, due to a ship collision in the Texas Galveston Bay, our waters received another 168,000 gallons of oil. This was during bird migration, and BP was allowed to resume its drilling in the Gulf.

So what has really happened? Loons, sperm whales and oyster populations are testing positive for chemicals contained within oil. Sea turtles and bottlenose dolphins are dead and will not recover their populations for decades. Our tuna is dying of heart disease, and pelican eggs contain dispersant and oil.

This tells us that something is definitely wrong, and the fines of BP need to be used to return the Gulf to the way that it once was—beautiful, pristine, and filled with natural life. Not only that, don’t eat the seafood, for you will become a casualty, too. Demand that all seafood is labeled with its origin, for it could save your life and that of your loved ones.

Male Baltimore Oriole
Male Baltimore Oriole | Source

The aromatic scent of honeysuckle has been permeating the air all week, which helps to keep us intrigued by the lake’s fare. By the time the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive, they will have plenty of nectar from this flower, though invasive. The trumpet vines are also blooming, and they will share this area with the Baltimore Oriole, who also enjoys this sweet nectar. The thistles are also flowering and this has been a wonderful spring, thus far.

Male Red-winged Blackbird
Male Red-winged Blackbird | Source

Red-winged Blackbirds

The Red-winged Blackbirds have been courting and setting up nests along the lakeside. The males have also been more than vigilant in protecting their territories from intruders. Not only have they been driving the egg eaters out of the area, like the grackles and the American Crows, the poor Mallards have been caught in the crossfire.

Female Northern Cardinal
Female Northern Cardinal | Source

Northern Cardinals

The Northern Cardinals have several nests in the area and have been very visible. In comparison to last spring, we were fortunate to see one or two upon occasion. Luckily, they can be spotted just about anywhere this season.

Male Common Yellowthroat
Male Common Yellowthroat | Source

Common Yellowthroat

The Common Yellowthroat has also been visiting us, and I finally was given the opportunity that I have been waiting for. It has been two years, but I finally got a wonderful photographic opportunity from this bird, which usually hides in the brush and thickets, rarely showing itself. This male is a gorgeous bird, and it is easy to identify due to the black eye mask.

Great Blue Heron with His Crappie
Great Blue Heron with His Crappie | Source

Great Blue Herons

A number of Great Blue Herons have moved to the main part of the lake, which tells me that the rookery isn’t nesting as heavily as it was. I’m sure that the young are still out there, but they must be fledging at this stage. Not only are the males in view but numerous females are moving to the busier and less sheltered parts of the lake.

Canada Gosling
Canada Gosling | Source
Mallard Ducklings
Mallard Ducklings | Source

Goslings and Ducklings

Canada Goslings and Mallard ducklings are still plentiful, but they are growing up. There are still very young ones out there, but it seems that the majority are older. Chances are quite good that another clutch will be coming right behind this wave.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher | Source

Scissor-tailed Flycatchers

The Scissor-tail Flycatchers are still courting and nature has taken hold on them more than I can. It still is difficult to get photographs of them in a natural state, but that should be calming down in a few weeks. The hustle and bustle of courtship is a very serious thing and they have no time to entertain me right now.

American Robin
American Robin | Source

American Robin

There is an active American Robin nest near my normal walk path on the east side of the lake. There is no sign of nestlings yet, but it shouldn’t be too long before I hear those telltale signs of new life. I am keeping my eyes and ears open.

Killdeer | Source


The Killdeer are also very active, are paired, and are nesting. Their nests are always on the ground, and the eggs are very difficult to spot. I have known many Killdeer to nest in some of the strangest places, like construction yard driveways, where both foot and vehicular traffic are heavy. Many times, these will be first year birds. As they learn, they tend to find less traveled areas, where chances are better that they eggs are not crushed. The eggs are heavily spotted and blend in very well with cement and gravel.

Blue-winged Teals
Blue-winged Teals | Source

Blue-winged Teals

I haven’t seen the Blue-winged Teals recently, so either they have moved on, or they are nesting. I have purposely kept out of the area where they seemed to be keeping a low profile. I will make myself scarce in those areas and perhaps investigate in a couple of weeks to see if there are any signs of them.

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing | Source

Cedar Waxwings and More

There are still plenty of Cedar Waxwings and American Goldfinches in and around the cottonwood trees, which provide wonderful cover. Their cottony billows have been flowing through the air, which provides very good nesting material. The Yellow Warblers and Clay-colored Sparrows are still very vocal in the shrubs and brush, and it appears that we now have two mated pairs of Brown Thrashers. It is definitely a good sign.

Our visit has come to an end for now. Keep your eyes on the ground and your head in the clouds. Happy birding until next time!

Where is Boomer Lake in Stillwater, OK?

Great Blue Heron Reflects
Great Blue Heron Reflects | Source
Northern Mockingbird in Flight
Northern Mockingbird in Flight | Source
Canada Goose in Flight
Canada Goose in Flight | Source
Yellow Warbler
Yellow Warbler | Source

© 2014 Deb Hirt


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    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Glimmer Twin Fan, nature is amazing, which is why these birds and animals survive. Many birds have an innate desire to survive at all costs, which is why some of them incorporate manmade structures for their homes.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      4 years ago

      Love that you included the Killdeer. I love these birds and we do have them around here. I'm always amazed they can survive given where they nest. Nature really can be powerful.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, teaches. There's always something to see at Boomer Lake. Education is the key to keeping our wildlife.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 years ago

      I hate that these creatures suffer from the ignorance of mankind. Thanks for bringing this issue to a higher awareness. I love your photos, always so pleasing to view.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Mel! It is Bird City on the lake.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from San Diego California

      Your yellowthroat reminded me that I haven't seen one in our yard for awhile, where they used to be somewhat regular, along with the Wilson's Warbler. Great work as usual!

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      ChitrangadaSharan, it is my pleasure to do my part and give everyone the chance to think about what faces us on a daily basis.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Dave! We need to question the government when it comes to our food interests, as well as everything else that affects our lives. George Orwell was right, wasn't he?

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Great article with lovely pictures!

      Thanks for reminding and spreading awareness about the oil spill of 2010. It must have affected the water creatures badly.

      Thanks for sharing another wonderful hub about these beautiful birds!

    • D.A.L. profile image


      4 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Deb how right you are about seafood labeling we do not know anymore {did we ever} what we are eating. Pollution, oil being the biggest, has been threatening our planet for a long time now,when will people wake up and demand a halt to it. Your wait for the photograph of the common yellow throat was worth the wait,great shot. Also admired your Mockingbird in flight shot. Voted up , useful and interesting.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Barbara Kay! You must be very proud of your daughter. Oil spill work is not easy.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 

      4 years ago from USA

      My daughter helped with the oil spill along the beach. What a shame this happened. Your photos are beautiful.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Alcia. We all have to try to stay on top of things, or the government will feed us propaganda.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Faith Reaper. It ain't spring until the honeysuckle is here.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for publicizing the oil spill situation, Deb. As always, your Boomer Lake hub is beautiful, interesting and useful.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      4 years ago from southern USA

      Deb, such a tragedy indeed, and thank you for sharing the ongoing disturbing news about all.

      I love smelling honeysuckle through the air. Your photos are spectacular as always. Oh, how sweet, that yellow warbler!

      Up and more and away

      Blessings for a lovely long weekend on Boomer Lake

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Johan. One day, we might get al of these serious questions answered.

    • Johan Smulders profile image

      Johan Smulders 

      4 years ago from East London, South Africa

      More great photos and searching questions. Keep up the good work.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Suhail, on both accounts.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      These oil accidents have been happening fairly frequently, aren't they? Yet our politicians seem to support corporate interests rather than peoples' interest.

      Keep raising the awareness Deb.

      Btw, great shots of birds once again.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      truthfornow, it truly is a sad predicament. It is the people and wildlife that suffer.

    • truthfornow profile image


      4 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      People around here act like the oil spill is all cleaned up and that it is okay to eat the seafood. BP gave out money for "health clinics" and a few other things as bandaids to try to cover up the mess. But they are not using the money for restoration. It is a tragedy.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      They certainly are The Innocents, aren't they, Jackie? And they always give me prime photos, too.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      You have to wonder if these winged creatures aren't really heaven sent angels; don't you? So beautiful as always! ^

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Lady G, I don't think that these spills are ever fully cleaned up. Even though oil and water don't mix, the oil still manages to infiltrate other things. I have washed birds where crude oil has eaten through their feet.

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 

      4 years ago from West By God

      Thanks for putting the map in. I liked to know where it is that you are talking about. Those birds are beautiful.

      You mention the Gulf Oil spill but there was another great big one on the coast of Alaska a few years ago, The Valdez Oil Spill. I wonder if that is completely cleaned up yet?

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Nell! Yes, the Yellow Warbler IS very striking. It is sad about those oil spills, and Big Oil is still alive and well no matter what they do. I am so happy that I can survive without a car!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      4 years ago from England

      Oh that yellow warbler! what an amazing photo! and those Gulf Oil Spills, they take it off the News and we are supposed to forget it, but how can we when all those animals are suffering? its awful. Love your article as always, and your photos are always amazing, nell

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Yes, Kevin, we must. Every time one of my columns is read, the voices of the animals are heard. Thanks for helping in the fight.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Billy. The more that we all talk about it, the more people will have their eyes opened.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Peg! Having worked the Athos I spill in DE(it occurred in NJ!), I can testify what it does to wildlife for decades. Glad that you liked the rest of the column, and I hope that the gulf will one day be a segment of what it once was.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 

      4 years ago

      Go, Deb, go. There was good info in here. I liked the photos of the Mockingbird in flight and the Baltimore Oriole.

      I hear the BP commercials talking about their great gas but I never hear them mention oil. That really is a shame for nature. I think that I heard about that back when it happened and I cannot belive that it is still around. Plus now another one has added to the mess. Geez. The poor animals.

      I voted this up and shared it. We must have others read about the oil.


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It is unbelievable how long an oil spill damages the water...keep raising awareness, Deb. You are doing great work with these articles.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      4 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Deb, I wondered where we were with the BP Oil Spill. In your profession, I can only imagine how disheartening that was to work through that mess. These photos are gorgeous and you've captured these birds at their best, as always.


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