Where Does Our Stream Go? Mystery Solved!

I don’t usually do more than one post in a day, but Suna the Master Naturalist is all excited about something! I have an unexpectedly free and non-rainy day, so I decided to take the dogs on a walk through the woods, our favorite pastime (as you might notice).

Today my goal was to figure out why our stream and its springs are flowing away, but Walker’s Creek is dry as a bone where County Road 140 goes over it. I also wanted to see what I’d find along the creek bed.

So, the dogs and I walked through the woods by the house and inspected all the recently fallen limbs. There were lots of mushrooms, as you can see above.

I found it, Mommy!

Finally we scratched our way through the various sticky plants until we got to the muddy spring area. Maybe I’ll name it Muddy Springs; it’s descriptive. I could see two areas where it bubbled up out of the ground, among all the cow footprints. There is lots of moss and pretty green plants in the moist area. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out what any of them are, even with iNaturalist.

Watching the clear spring water flow.

The spring only flows about ten feet, then it goes back underground. I assume it ends up feeding Hermits Stream, which is just a few yards away. I wrote about trying to find the spring that starts the stream a while back.

Penney enjoys a sunny wide spot.

I looked for life in and around the flowing water, and saw a water boatman, a lot of black water bugs, mosquito larvae, a honeybee, and one lonely fritillary butterfly (it wasn’t swimming). Of course, the dogs splashed, played and drank. It was a lot of fun for them.

You can see the layers of our soil really well here.

As we walked along, we saw spots where there was a lot of water and spots where the stream was narrow. You could easily see the pattern where it washes away on one side and builds up pebbly areas on the other (the soil in that part of the property is full of rocks and clay).

Tree love.

Finally, I got to where the stream meets the creek. It was still flowing away. BUT instead of going to the left, the way the creek flows when it’s running, the water was going to the right, into what’s usually a deeper part of Walker’s Creek. There, it creates a long and fairly deep little “lake.”

The “lake”

So, it appears that the stream will only head down toward the Little River when there’s enough rain to get the creek flowing again. Until then, it just makes a wet spot in an intermittent creek. Mystery solved!

They’re blurry, but here is a pair of greater yellowlegs the dogs disturbed.

Bonus Bivalve Fun

I found some really big freshwater mussel shells in the creek bed, which explains that the otters are eating when the creek is high. Yum. These are around four inches long, and shine beautifully on the inside. They’re also very sharp. I bet they were used for all sorts of purposes by the indigenous people around here. These appear to be Uniomerus.

It’s never dull if you have a curious mind and intrepid hounds to wander around with you. Once again I am so grateful to have the Hermits’ Rest woods to bring me joy.

I love taking pictures toward the sun, even though you always get the blue dot. The reflection looks like a moth!

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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