Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Sutherland Reservoir in Winter

After more than a week of dreary overcast skies and dense fog, the sun came out on Saturday and we took advantage of it with a drive around the Sutherland Reservoir. It was kind of questionable early in the day if it was going to turn off nice, but the fog burned off around 10:00.

We started our drive at Sutherland beach. This view is looking west at the island. Sutherland beach features a campground with pads and hookups, and also the nine-hole Oregon Trail Golf Course.
Next we headed toward the outlet, where the Blue Herons were disturbed from their fishing by our presence.
This is Hershey Beach. In the summer, this popular beach will be filled with campers, boaters and swimmers. Today, though the sun was bright, it doesn't look so inviting.
While it may not rival the ice pack heading down from the arctic to cover the Opelio crab fishing grounds in the Bering sea, the ice remaining at Hershey beach looks damn cold!
The pelicans were taking a break from the cold water to sun themselves on the breakwater.
Another Blue Heron who wouldn't sit still to have his picture taken.
The blackbirds (or Grackles, or Starlings... whatever they are) were resting in a tree.
But a short beep of the horn got them flying again.
Like a flower blooming, they burst out of the tree to find a quieter resting place.
This is the spillway into the Reservoir from the cooling pond of NPPD's Gerald Gentleman Power Plant.
The view from the top is impressive.
And here in the canal, the water is deceivingly calm before it rushes over the spillway.
It wouldn't be my cup of tea, but the fishermen were out enjoying the day. I hope they had luck.
Toward the inlet, a hawk was hunting.
The spillway into the Inlet is a little quieter than usual. There isn't any water being let out toward Lake Maloney, so there's not a lot of water flowing in, either.
The Inlet is a Recreation area maintained by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. There are camping pads with grills, as well as primitive camping and a handicapped fishing pier.
Here is where the ducks and geese were congregating. It was about this moment that I realized that the snow drifts I was trudging through weren't resting on solid ice, but rather slush. Fortunately, I only went through up to my ankles, but it was cold enough.
Safely back in the pickup, with the heater blasting on my frozen feet, I caught the sea gulls through the window.
Taking the back roads back to town, we pass the slough where we disturbed a family of ducks.
The flew up, only to circle around and land again when they realized we were only driving by.
Further on, in the Applegate Drain, a lone female swims along.
This scenic little stream is really a drainage ditch designed to drain the soil from the water that seeps into the water table from the Sutherland Reservoir.
A small herd of horses enjoys the beautiful day grazing in a pasture.
Thanks for stopping by my little corner of Nebraska for a beautiful Saturday afternoon drive. Remember, the coffee is always on.

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