Deep Fork Bottoms (Chandler-Stroud
From the 1986 edition of A Guide to Birding in
Oklahoma published by the Tulsa Audubon Society. This account was partially reviewed and updated in 2007.
The Deep Fork Bottoms as
considered here are the approximately 40 square miles of the flood prone
areas of the Deep Fork River in Lincoln County south of I 44 from
Warwick on the west to Stroud on the east.
The Deep Fork River
Bottoms area has a history of frequent flooding with attendant oxbow and
off-stream impoundments. Some impoundments are natural ponds but others
are due to unsuccessful attempts at flood control by channelization
which has aggravated the rate of runoff and eventually caused increased
sediment deposition blocking the waterway and creating the existing
Access to the area can be
accomplished by starting at Warwick, 7 miles west of Chandler, and
proceeding east along US 66, probing south along the section-line roads
for open water and populated habitat. The Bottoms south of Chandler (SH
18) extending east to SH 99 south of Stroud are not considered easily
accessible. Road intersections are seldom identified. A Lincoln County
map showing township and section subdivisions is recommended as a guide
as oil companies post their well site locations on the premises.
About 4 miles south of
Chandler along SH 18 there is an open lake to the east of the highway
with a seasonally open road across it. Here during migration periods
bird-watching is exceptionally rewarding. White-faced Ibis, American
Bittern, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Double-crested Cormorant, Belted
Kingfisher, plus all Oklahoma egrets and herons can be seen here.
Unusual records include the Roseate Spoonbill in 1984. If the road to
the east is open, access is just a matter of probing each road leading
south to the water. If the road is closed due to high water the county
map will identify the few section-line roads that will provide access to
Vegetation varies from
dense stands of deciduous trees along the water courses to savannah-like
uplands with scattered trees and dense copses of low trees and shrubs.
At flood stage the water frequently inundates pasture lands and extends
into orchards and cultivated fields. When the water is low the lakes are
generally shallow with expanses of annual forbs.
The favorable location of
the Bottoms relative to the Central Flyway provides shorebirds in the
spring and fall, herons and egrets during the summer, and ducks and
other waterfowl during the winter. The abundance of vegetation provides
haven for several species of migrant upland birds.