Thursday, April 22, 2021

Buffalo Lake NWR - Texas

Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge is 32 miles southwest of Amarillo, 14 miles west (and a little south) of Canyon and 22 miles northeast of Hereford, Texas.  

It is 7,644 acres of shortgrass prairie, occasional marsh, woodland (a misnomer) and cropland.
Grass is plentiful, but trees are in short supply.

Wikipedia states that it "lies within a canyon carved by Tierra Blanca Creek, an ephemeral stream" that is often completely dry. "Canyon" is also a misnomer as the land seems little more than a slight elevation drop, but because the Texas Panhandle is so flat, even slight elevation variations are significant. Tierra Blanca Creek, with "creek" also a misnomer, is the only creek within a large drainage basin, so when there are major storms, the only time it contains significant water, it can have flash floods. A flood control dam, known as Umbarger Dam, in the northeast part of the refuge, gathers the flood waters behind it and creates Buffalo Lake, shallow waters that provide habitat for migrating birds. The official website says that it is some of the best remaining short grass prairie in the U.S. It is within the Central Flyway. It has an 11 mile auto route that we followed. We visited twice in one day. First in the morning, then later in the afternoon when we could not get in to Palo Duro Canyon State Park, we returned. 
We did see a few mule deer hiding in the trees in the afternoon and a porcupine in a tree that was there both in the morning and in the afternoon when we visited.
The porcupine is a large lump in the tree. 

We got a great view of a western meadowlark singing its song
and we saw two birds I'd never seen before, an eastern bluebird and a sage thrasher. 
Eastern bluebird

Sage thrasher
Finally, we saw a mourning dove and a white-crowned sparrow. 
White-crowned sparrow

Mourning dove.
We did not see a great profusion of wildlife for the time we spent there, but I'm sure that when it is wet and birds are migrating it has more to offer. 

1 comment:

  1. There must be something that makes this place special enough to be a national wildlife refuge. I figure we were there at the wrong time. It was fun to see the porcupine.