Our recent snowfall and abundant rains have produced an incredible amount of runoff. You’ve probably heard of storm chasers – well I consider myself to be a river and lake watcher—not just a bird watcher! I am fascinated by weather, and the impact weather has on our local creeks and lakes.
When we experience a good storm I go check the flow of the various creeks in Prescott—and we have a lot of them, some named, and many unnamed. Our home is situated along an unnamed creek, and I am always happy to see it flowing.
With each big storm, I am in the habit of visiting the Watson Woods trailhead located at the intersection of Rosser and Highway 89. It is only a short walk from the parking lot to Granite Creek. When I checked the creek just a few days ago, it was running hard.
I usually check the level of Watson Lake each week, as well. From the pullout on Highway 89 I have a few spots that I look at where I can tell whether the water level has gone up or down. When I arrived at the lake just a few days ago, the first bird I saw was a Bald Eagle in flight!
Watson Lake is the fullest I have seen it in at least a year and a half. The city has opened the gate to the channel that allows excess water from Watson to flow over to Willow Lake. This is an exciting development, as the water level at Willow Lake has been down by at least 10 feet until very recently.
Willow Lake is now getting the added benefit of excess water from Watson Lake, as well as water flowing into the lake from Willow Creek. My measuring point for Willow Creek is the low-water crossing in The Crossings subdivision. With two sources of water racing into Willow Lake, I suspect we will see a big difference in the water level over the next two weeks.
Between the large snowstorm we had on Christmas Eve, and the continued unsettled, rainy weather since then, additional migratory birds have shown up in the area, including snow geese and white-fronted geese in Prescott, and a lone greater scaup at Fain Park in Prescott Valley.
Last week I visited Watson Lake on a cold, windy, rainy day. The domesticated ducks and geese that reside there looked downright miserable. It is illegal for individuals to dump domesticated ducks and geese at our lakes, but that doesn’t stop it from happening. It is through no fault of their own that these birds are at the lake, looking for handouts.
Each time I walk by the boat dock, there are a good number of these birds hanging out as they are accustomed to being fed. It is a common sight to see parents, grandparents, and children feeding the ducks and geese congregating along the shore. Unfortunately, most people feeding the ducks are using bread, which is not the best thing for them.
If you are ever inclined to feed the ducks and geese at the lakes, I encourage you to stop by the store, as we have five-pound bags of cracked corn just for that purpose. Cracked corn is a much better alternative than bread for these domesticated birds.
This weekend, I will be participating in the mid-winter Bald Eagle survey (count) sponsored by the Prescott National Forest. Many individuals have volunteered to cover specific areas such as Watson, Willow, Lynx and Goldwater lakes to record Bald Eagle observations. Wish me luck—last year I only saw one!
Until next week, Happy Birding!