Stop 19: Elk City Lake
Directions: Continue west on OK 33 to its intersection with OK 34 South. Continue into Elk City, and take I-40 West to the exit for Quartz Mountain and OK 6. Follow OK 6 South for a short distance to Elk City Lake, on the right.
Throughout the drive
from the Washita NWR to Elk City Lake, keep an eye out for Common Nighthawks,
which will occasionally sit atop fenceposts, and remain calmly seated
to allow for up-close photography. This urban lake covers 250 acres,
and is part of a 750-acre park tract. Snags in the lake attract a variety
of woodpeckers including Red-headed Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker,
and Northern Flicker. Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron,
and Cattle Egret can also be seen in and around the lake. Check the
muddy edges, particularly during migrations, for shorebirds. Least Sandpiper,
Killdeer, Stilt Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, dowitchers, avocets, Willet,
Solitary Sandpiper, and the occasional snipe or Pectoral Sandpiper may
be seen here. Early morning at the lake provides beautiful sunrise vistas,
and picnic benches make this an excellent retreat from the Interstate.
A 12-mile cycling trail runs the perimeter of the lake, and a short
walk will take visitors into cottonwood, locust, and hackberry groves
that provide excellent cover and food for cardinals, thrashers, the
occasional thrush, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, warblers and vireos during
migration. After crossing the dry creek, a fence borders the park property
with a water retention pond where migratory and wintering waterfowl
can be found from late fall through early spring. Teal, Gadwall, and
raccoons all occur here.
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