Blackbirds over Lake Chapala 2

A couple of hours of looking through old photos of the non-digital sort yielded two photos of the blackbirds whose sunset flights were described in this poem. In these photos, they have not yet gathered into the chains they form to fly to the cornfields between Chapala and Guadalajara. Here they are just lifting out of the acres of cattails that rimmed the lake back when it was shrinking in size. This is just one wave of birds. After it lifted, there would have been another and another—tens of thousands of birds—as I recall, some yellow-winged and some red-winged blackbirds. In the years since then, the lake has thankfully come up to its original banks, as at the time I moved here in 2001 there were places in which you had to take a taxi from the pier to get out to the lake. It was estimated that the lake would be totally gone within five years, but luckily people banded together to save it. I’m glad to have the lake restored and there are still thousands of white pelicans as well as numerous egrets and herons and other birds, but I do miss those glorious swells of blackbirds.

(If you want to see the birds, you need to click on photos to enlarge them.)

 

19 thoughts on “Blackbirds over Lake Chapala 2

    1. lifelessons Post author

      Farmers farther upstream were flood irrigating,Guanajuato was taking a lot of the water and there were huge dams–some holding more water than the lake itself–that were holding back the water. People here applied for it to be designated a Living Lake by the society of the same name and they applied pressure. Finally they legislated some changes in water usage. In addition, rainfall increased after a number of years of lower rainfall. Read about The Living Lakes here: http://www.globalnature.org/bausteine.net/f/7898/LivingLakes

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      1. slmret

        Thanks, Judy — I was actually wondering if it was something like our Salton Sea, which is a diverted branch of the Colorado River that got cut off and became very salt. It has virtually died, except for one small area which I think is diverting some agricultural water to maintain a corner of the lake.

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          1. slmret

            It has changed a lot — there’s a small area in the southeastern part of the lake that is still living, and the National Parks Administration has been given grants to try to save it. Last I heard, it is holding its own, but not particularly rebuilding itself.

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      2. slmret

        Wow — I was not aware of the Living Lakes — and your project in particular is a huge effort to replenish and refurbish the lake. I’m glad it’s working, and especially that the birds are doing so well! Thanks for the link!

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  1. Pingback: Blackbirds over Lake Chapala | lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

        1. lifelessons Post author

          On one trip back to the states many years ago, I tried to count the red-winged blackbirds I saw along the road.There were so many of them that I had to give up. A few years later I drove the same route and I don’t think we saw any. I was curious about why this was. I hope it wasn’t the effect of pesticides.

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  2. Jane Dougherty

    Fantastic photo’s Judy! And great to hear that the lake has been saved. Another example of farmers deciding that they ‘own’ a natural resource. Same thing happens here on a much smaller scale, the water course at the bottom of our land runs dry in the summer because each of the three sources has been dammed by farmers to irrigate mainly corn which goes for animal feed. Result, no water for anything downstream. I don’t know how much longer the trees will cope. They grew there in the first place because of the water.

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