Date: 4/20/17 9:58 am
From: Tom SHANE <tom.shane...>
Subject: Clark Lake Birds and Environment
Sara and I had planned for weeks to check out the Clark County burn especially at Clark Lake. We are now glad we delayed the trip a number of times since the burn area was visible with the new growth of grass, and we were able to determine the amount of tree loss. We first saw evidence of the burn while driving south of Kingsdown on Hwy 94 a half mile south of the Ford/Clark county line. Ranchers and farmers were out replacing fence. When we reached the first curve which turns west to the lake we noticed the shelterbelt on the south side of the road was ok except for the far east end that had burnt. It had been protected by a wheat field to the south. However, it had sustained heavy damage from the ice storm a few weeks prior. Two Roadrunners slowly crossed the highway, stopping just before entering the shelterbelt. We pulled up beside them and watched for almost a full minute. This also allowed the birds a little human watching an important pastime in the cuckoo world.
There were very few areas at Clark Lake not touched by the fire. The best summary would be that; 90% of the trees were killed on the west side of the lake. The west side camping area had the greatest number of living trees. The east side of the lake had lost 20% of the trees. I suspect the fuel load was much less in the camping and picnicking areas, compared to some of the side canyons where there appeared to be more burnt trees. Below the dam in the old picnic/camping area, most of the large trees were killed, except on the far west side next to the spillway stream where most appeared to have survived.
The larger trees south of the lake and dam scattered through the Bluff Creek valley on private property, were dead. At the north end of the lake it was extremely hard to figure out why some areas were burnt and others escaped the fire. The Barred Owl woods immediately north of the lake lake was green and looking good. The fire did go through the area, but apparently did not have enough fuel to kill most of the trees. We could see one ancient cottonwood that was completely blackened. Most of the trees in the circular drive just southeast of the Barred Owl woods survived including the large stand of old cedars in the center. Just east of there near the biffy, all the trees behind it an on to the north were killed.
The trees west of the Barred Owl woods were killed. Likewise, all the trees north on private property along Bluff Creek were killed except for one small grove along the west bluff.
We could not get a real sense of the bird population because the 13 mph wind forecast had risen to around the 33 mph range instead. We did see and hear a few birds:

Red-bellied Woodpecker ............. 1
No. Flicker ................................... 1
Eastern Phoebe ............................ 2
Blue Jay  ....................................... 1
Tree Swallow ................................ 5
Bewick's Wren ...............................1
House Wren ...................................1
Eastern Bluebird ........................... 1
Am. Robin ...................................... 1
Brown Thrasher ............................ 2
Spotted Towhee ............................. 1
Song  Sparrow  ............................ 1
White-crowned Sparrow  ................3
No. Cardinal ................................... 3
Red-winged Blackbird .................... 3

Additional notes:
The south face of the dam had two spaced rock walls that just protruded from the soil that ran the entire length of the dam. I had never seen anything like this; however it was indeed an old design. I'm guessing it was built in the thirties the same time the failed dam in Stanton County, the Scott Lake dam and I assume the Meade Lake dam were built.
We found a deep hole were an old cotton wood stump had burned into the ground about 4 feet.
Along the old streambed of Bluff Creek below the dam, a fallen tree we had used to eat lunch on during the CBC was now burnt off at the base and in the water.

On the trip down and back we stopped at the play north of Minneola, but the BBWDs were gone. There was a typical assortment of ducks, a few coots, 2 eared grebes and both Recurvirostrids for this temporal slot in April.

After a big burn like this it is reported that Black-capped Vireos will move in. What are the chances? I think the little canyons on the east side of Clark Lake that did receive higher tree loss could be prime spots to look. If you want, we will call you if we find one. :>)

Good Birdwatching,
Tom Shane
Garden City

For KSBIRD-L archives or to change your subscription options, go to
https://listserv.ksu.edu/ksbird-l.html
For KSBIRD-L guidelines go to
http://www.ksbirds.org/KSBIRD-LGuidelines.htm
To contact a listowner, send a message to
mailto:<ksbird-l-request...>
 
Join us on Facebook!