Bald Eagle at Lake Bardwell

Bald Eagle at Bardwell Lake

by

Peggy Bailey, Indian Trail Master Naturalist

Several members of the Indian Trail Master Naturalist group agreed to do some trail maintenance at Bardwell Lake near Ennis on a recent winter day. Our goal was to assist the Army Corps of Engineers in their work on this natural resource, so that it continues to be appealing to walkers, birders, fishermen and families.

We began at the Buffalo Creek Wetland area, which is behind the dam, and includes a variety of micro-ecosystems. There is a sedge meadow as well as a wooded area, and a pond with active beavers. I wildly over-estimated what could be accomplished in a long morning’s work. I was thinking that we could do most of what was needed along that ¾ mile trail. Even with diligence, and the active partnership of two Corps Naturalists, we completed less than half the trail. That spruced-up portion (which is the first that visitors see) looks very inviting now, with branches trimmed back, and a path wide enough for two people. We’re scheduling a day soon to finish this season’s work on the trail.

We became acutely aware of trash, especially in and alongside the creek which meanders beside that first section of the trail. Of course, we picked up what we could, and the Rangers made arrangements to haul away the bags. The path looks good now, and the trash is largely limited to what is in the creek bed. It’s troubling to know that people are treating this precious area as a ‘dump’ site, so we talked as we worked about what it would take to eliminate such activity. Our ideas were initially focused on increased surveillance until one of our wiser members remarked that if more families used the site, it would naturally impress on them and their children that the wetland is valuable and not to be mistreated. So,  that led us back to the idea of keeping the trails maintained and the area generally appealing and inviting.

Our bonus event was a bird sighting, very near the wetland. On the road to the wetland, the Corps Naturalists pointed out to us a magnificent bald eagle, perched for hunting. It was sitting in a large tree, maintaining a view of both a broad meadow and the lakeshore. What a great bird for us to see! There were two aeries visible, one apparently from a couple of years ago and one from the most recent spring/summer season. They looked almost precarious, each situated in the crook of a tree, and are of course large. By themselves, the eagle and these nesting spots are worth the short drive to Lake Bardwell. The aeries are readily visible from the road that goes to the wetland.

We truly hope families seek out this wetland area. Please stop to walk that trail at Buffalo Creek Wetland.  The ¾ mile trail is a great place for a leisurely walk and there are interpretive signs along the way. The Corps Office is nearby, on Observatory Drive, with maps of the lake and its resource areas, and the Corps Naturalists are well-informed and helpful. Share this terrific natural resource area with your children or grandchildren. Let us know if you’d like to join us in maintaining those trails!

You are invited to attend our free, open-to-the-public, monthly program on the fourth Monday of the month at 7 pm at the Red Oak Library, 200 Lakeview Pkwy, Red Oak, TX. For more information on the Indian Trail Master Naturalist Chapter, contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at 972-825-5175 or visit our website:   https://txmn.org/indiantrail/.

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