Saturday, June 4, 2016

Dugout Creek - A Pastoral Scene

Dugout Creek, Nebraska

Winding its way through the southern sandhills of western Nebraska, Dugout Creek is a lively waterway that becomes even more energetic during the spring. The riparian habitat supports a wide variety of wildlife and offers a lucrative bird viewing experience.

Upon entering the pastoral scene, an abandoned homestead is sunken into a hill overlooking an expanse of farmland. The creek’s name is most certainly a reference to the submerged structure that’s half-buried into the soft earth.

A herd of curious cattle are wary of conspicuous intruders and their constant chorus of bawling makes the visitor feel unwelcome. A massive, black bull is irritated by the disruption to the herd and angrily paws at the ground.

A great blue heron wades downstream, searching for prey while a great horned owl is flushed from its daytime perch. Wild turkeys are up on the ridge sneaking through sagebrush and as for the orioles, they’re happily singing during the nest-building process.

Everything seems perfect now but before the end of the season, a powerful swell of icy runoff will transform the brook into a destructive torrent. Combine the annual deluge with an afternoon thunderstorm and the potential for flash-flooding becomes a reality.

Evidence of past disaster is everywhere as enormous cottonwood trees have been uprooted and strewn across the restless stream. Any critters unfortunate enough to be caught in the draw during such an event have surely met their end.

Continuing along the watercourse leads the explorer ever deeper into a tangled woodland. It’s an astonishing discovery as the place is an oasis of lush greenery snaking through a semi-arid grassland often disparaged as the Great American Desert.

Winding its way through the sandhills

Dugout Creek is a lively waterway

It's a pastoral scene

An abandoned homestead is sunken

The submerged structure gives the creek its name

The cattle are wary of strangers

A bull was irritated by the disruption

Bullock's Oriole

Everything is perfect

Enormous cottonwoods have been uprooted

An unfortunate critter

Lush greenery in an arid grassland

The Great American Desert

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