Thursday, June 28, 2012

Black Kettle Lake

The water level is down a bit, but it is still very popular with fishermen.

Black Kettle Lake was the water I wrote about originally on 27 February (Dead Indian Water). That post also included information on the current water wars in Oklahoma over lake water on Chickasaw and Choctaw lands that the state wants to lay claim to. I wanted to come back not just for the lake, but to learn more about the history here.
A killdeer sits in her gravel nest on the little island just offshore.

Black Kettle is located on P. 38 (A-3) of the Oklahoma DeLorme Atlas, and is on Rt. 283 between Roll and Cheyenne. Even with the detailed DeLorme Atlas, finding the lake is not a given. There is no sign on the highway for the lake or park, and the entrance looks like any other country lane with a wire fence and cattle grid across the drive. You need to turn into the drive and between the shrubs before you find a sign for the park and lake.

Fearing I may disturb her nest, she tries to draw me away.

Black Kettle Lake is small, only 79 acres, with a three mile shoreline. Built in 1959, it was first named Dead Indian Lake. The Indian was later promoted and it became Dead Warrior Lake. Finally it became Black Kettle Lake for Chief Black Kettle, one of the primary peace chiefs of the Cheyenne. The area is called the Black Kettle Grasslands, and it was just south of here along the Washita River that Chief Black Kettle and his wife, along with many members of their village, were murdered in a dawn massacre by forces under Lt. Col. George Custer, but much more on that later.

She stops to see if I'm going to follow her away from the nest.

The lake was down about 3-4 feet, but at least it had water. Foss Lake, by comparison, a much larger body about 25 miles to the east is still down 26% of lake capacity from last year. In this part of the country, one has to be happy with what dampness can be found, and it was indeed a nice paddle that produced some enjoyable wildlife.

Click to enlarge.  The plant obstructs the view a bit, but she moves
a couple more yards away, and then falls on the ground and turns
her feathers out to make it look like she has a broken wing.
The grey goose in background center behind the stick is a nearly grown
gosling from this spring's hatch.  There were a couple others that the Canada
geese kept herding further into the grass away from me.
A very skittish and bashful nonbreeding Little Blue Heron.

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