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Deep Fork Bottoms (Chandler-Stroud Area)

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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 impoundments.

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 the Bottoms.

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.



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Last modified: October 15, 2018




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