06 April 2014

Birders Prefer Cessation of Pumping Water into Carter Lake

This is an email sent to Mayor Jean Stothert, Robert Stubbe, director of Public Works and Pete Festerson, Omaha city council.

On Friday morning, April 4th, there was a wonderful variety of birds present at Carter Lake, as the lake environs were most suitable for many birds. The variety of waterfowl was completely unique with, especially, a significant number of dabbling ducks present ... undoubtedly due to the lesser water levels, which make the edible aquatic vegetation available as forage.

These are the species observed during an early morning visit, with birds counted from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. from several vantage points around the lake. There were other birders present in the morning, including two guys associated with a SUV with a Michigan license plate. Obviously the birds at Carter Lake are an attraction to more than just Omaha bird-watchers!

  • Canada Goose: 38
  • Wood Duck: 19
  • Gadwall: 175
  • A count of 225 on 29 March is the greatest count for this species, and the 175 Gadwall observed on April 4th is the third largest count, based upon a review of 127 records.

  • American Wigeon: 20
  • Mallard: 35
  • Blue-winged Teal: 2
  • Northern Shoveler: 875
  • This is the second highest count for this species at the lake.

  • Green-winged Teal: 3
  • Canvasback: 77
  • Redhead: 12
  • Ring-necked Duck: 185
  • Lesser Scaup: 115
  • Bufflehead: 15
  • Common Goldeneye: 5
  • Hooded Merganser: 25
  • Common Merganser: 12
  • Ruddy Duck: 15
  • Pied-billed Grebe: 3
  • American White Pelican: 3
  • Double-crested Cormorant: 11
  • American Coot: 450
  • Ring-billed Gull: 65
  • California Gull: 1
  • Herring Gull: 3
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull: 1

Some gull records courtesy of Justin Rink.

The number of birds present was more than 2200. And since the value to the birds is worth at least $1 per day, the economic valuation is $2200 for this single date.

Upon visiting the north lake pump station, it was obvious that no water was being pumped into the lake. The lake-level gauge was below 968.

Because of the cessation of pumping, several bird enthusiasts were called, in order to get their perspective on pumping activities at Carter Lake. The following birders, as well as myself, agreed that no pumping of water should occur at the lake until after April 15th:

  • Clem Klaphake
  • Jim and Sandy Kovanda
  • Loren and Babs Padelford
  • Justin Rink
  • Jerry Toll

These people appreciate the many fowl at the lake and would prefer that the lake be managed in a manner suitable for the ongoing occurrence of migratory wildbirds.

Incoming water and the water elevation gauge at Carter Lake on April 5, 2014.

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