The Changing Shoreline
The Irrigation System
In spring the lake is full. Water might be up to the bank. The lake provides habitat for migrating birds, especially those adapted to deeper water—diving ducks, mergansers, cormorants, osprey, and white pelicans.
By fall, the shallow water and smartweed may extend hundreds of feet out from the bank, attracting hundreds of migrating waterfowl. If the soil remains somewhat wet, the smartweed will produce abundant seeds providing high energy food for ducks, and a seed bank for the following year.
During the summer, water is drawn from the reservoir for irrigation. Shallow water becomes a hunting ground for wading birds like the great blue herons and great and snowy egrets. By August, receding water has exposed bare mudflats—habitat for gulls and shorebirds that probe in the mud for aquatic insects and crustaceans. Among these are killdeer, dowitchers, avocets,
As the irrigation season ends, the lake again begins to store water for the next growing season. The smartweed becomes flooded, making the plant food available to migrating waterfowl. Opportunities for gulls and late migrating shorebirds persist well into the fall, for some gulls, (ring-billed gulls, for example) even into winter. In most winters, hardy mallards and Canada geese can be found on open water and in nearby flowing streams.
Location. 40° 5.767′ N, 99° 21.841′ W. Marker is in Alma, Nebraska, in Harlan County. Marker is on W. South Street 0.3 miles east of U.S. 183, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 800 W. South Street, Alma NE 68920, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 1 other marker is within walking distance of this marker. Fish-Eating Birds (here, next to this marker).
Categories. • Animals • Environment •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 4, 2011, by Charles T. Harrell of Woodford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 387 times since then and 45 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on August 4, 2011, by Charles T. Harrell of Woodford, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.