I drove up to Palo Duro Reservoir in Hansford County yesterday for a change of pace. I’ve been hitting the same spots around Hutchinson County for a while and I was getting a little bored with the same places. Palo Duro is about an hour’s drive northeast of where I live and is formed by an earth dam just north of where Palo Duro Creek and Horse Creek converge. It’s not a large lake but they had gotten some good rains on their watershed last week and the water level was up several feet. There’s a little campground and picnic area on the north side of the lake with a small pond and creek overhung by cottonwoods. On the south side of the dam is the lake. I took photos on both sides of the dam.
I stopped by Spring Canyon before I drove across the Lake Meredith dam on the way to Palo Duro and photographed these Northern Rough-winged Swallows taking a break from hunting for breakfast and this female Painted Bunting that scolded me for interrupting her morning bath.
As you drive north from Lake Meredith you gradually trade the pastures and arroyos of the Canadian River breaks for the farmland of the northeastern edge of the Llano Estacado. I saw this Dickcissel on a fence overlooking an irrigated cornfield north of Spearman.
Most of the farmland in the Texas Panhandle is irrigated with water from the Ogallala aquifer as we only get about 20 or so inches of rain a year; less when we are in a drought, like we have been for most of the last several decades. Here’s an interesting time lapse of satellite images showing how much the water levels at Lake Meredith have dropped since the early 80s.
Palo Duro Reservoir is home to a colony about 30-40 nesting Double-crested Cormorants. This one is keeping an eye on a trio of Western Grebes. The grebes are a little unusual for this time of year. Late migrants, I guess.
More photos in the galleries at the top of the page.