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Life at Boomer Lake with Deb, Thursday May 22, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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?
© 2014 Deb Hirt