The selling points for Lake Tecumseh are boat ramp, grills, picnic area, overnight camping, a pavilion, a playground and 3 miles of shoreline surrounding 127 acres of water. A small dam is located in the northeast corner.
The “Tower” is a landmark building in the picnic area built by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC).

The selling points for Lake Tecumseh are boat ramp, grills, picnic area, overnight camping, a pavilion, a playground and 3 miles of shoreline surrounding 127 acres of water. A small dam is located in the northeast corner.

The “Tower” is a landmark building in the picnic area built by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC). This organization provided jobs, shelter, clothing and food for young men during the Depression. In return the workers helped develop the natural resources in rural areas. From a satellite’s perspective, Lake Tecumseh appears as a statuesque face, facing left, with sculpted hair, prominent lips and a short pig tail at the back of the head. A long neck extends to a truncated bosom. The profile could have fit in with the other 887 statues on Easter Island.

The Deep Fork Audubon Society had decided to have a field trip last Saturday morning at Lake Tecumseh. Although the weather was predicted to be cold and rainy, the rain stayed to the north, but strong cold winds came south. The air flowing over the water made the forty five degrees feel like below freezing. Even our binoculars and the birding telescope were shivering. The greatest difficulty I had was holding my binoculars in my mittens while trying to keep the Hot Hands from falling out!

Despite the uncomfortable conditions, we managed to see four cormorants coast right above the surface of the water. Double-crested Cormorants are larger black water birds with long necks. They hang around our area in the winter to do a little fishing. Our ornithologist spotted 19 Ring-necked ducks on the other side of the lake…with his telescope. The male duck wears a striking black and light gray feather coat, does have a faint chestnut neckband but much more noticeable are the two white bands around its bill. The female is tan, but also has a faint ring around her bill, the reason why these diving ducks are also called ‘ringbills’. Keeping their distance were three Gadwalls. Gadwalls resemble Mallards in size, but have low-key grey-brown coats and white wing patches. They like to steal food from other diving ducks and were probably just floating-in-wait until the ringnecks caught fish.

My best find of the day was a Yellow-bellied or rumped warbler. The little insect eater was streaked in yellows and dark browns and stayed on the left side of the oak tree. Three bluebirds had taken over the other side. Spunky Dark-eyed Juncoes foraged for seeds on the ground under some trees and a Great Blue Heron flew overhead.

The Great Blue Heron look and sound so prehistoric. They not only wade in the water, but walk in fields and pastures. The birds can quickly strike their prey with pointed bills or crunch them with strong mandibles. Not only fish, but small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and other birds are all fair game. The Great Blues hunt both day and night as they have good night vision.

Somewhere in the background trees, the White-crowned Sparrows delivered sweet clear whistles ending in trills. Crows, no doubt pestering something, squawked in the distance. A hawk, possibly Cooper’s Hawk, soared above us, but vanished before we could get a positive identification. Of course there were the dozens of sparrows that flew in tight formations throughout the shrubbery. Other birds were present, but we left them to go on their own merry ways.

From one land run town to another we traveled. Tecumseh was one of the early towns created during the seven land runs of the “Unassigned lands” in what was later to become the state of Oklahoma. Stretching from 1889 to 1895, sections of Indian Territory composed of Native American lands were opened to homesteaders on a first come basis. Tecumseh was a Shawnee Chief and military ally of the British during the Revolutionary War. His name meant “Shooting Star” or “Panther across the Sky.”

Our next destination was Guthrie, formerly called Deer Creek, also settled during a land run. John Guthrie, Kansas jurist, was the namesake. On Saturday, Guthrie was the turn-around point for the Land Run 100 and the location for the drop bags. Our mission: to see our crazy son and his teammate actually make it to Guthrie, get a few dry things out of their drop bag and start the return trip back to Stillwater. We thought we had missed him, but, sure enough, in the pack of some of the dirtiest bicyclists to be seen, here rides up this grinning mud caked person we recognized. He quickly stopped then turned and took off into the rain.

Five years the Land Run 100 has been held. The races that encompass both bicyclists and runners, begin and end in Stillwater, one of the first land run towns established in Oklahoma. Pick out your favorite story of how Stillwater got its name: a place where the water was always still, according to the Ponca, Kiowa, Osage and Pawnee tribes; comments by cattle drivers that water was still there; or David Payne (not the Channel 9 meteorologist) who walked up to Stillwater Creek and said… can guess the rest.

This year, the Land Run 100 had three different races going on simultaneously. The 105 mile bicycle endurance contest over gravel and dirt roads draws the most insane. The shorter but still challenging 50 mile bicycle race put even seasoned riders to the test. New last year was added the 50 kilometer running circuit. Everyone who crossed the finish line, regardless of their mode of transportation, was totally exhausted, soaking wet and covered in mud. And greeted as champions.

Hundreds of contestants started the 105 miler, but less than 100 finished. The winds were strong, cold and, shall we say, damp. The rains that did not fall in Tecumseh chose to turn loose in the Guthrie and Stillwater area. The bike roads developed into deep red muddy bogs interspersed with wet soggy gravel. In two sections the bicyclists had to dismount and carry their bikes while wading through orange muck. Some riders finished the race with no brakes. My son and his teammate finished the race in 9 hours. Their fingers and toes were frozen. The clothes and bikes were nearly unidentifiable. As the rest of the bicyclists rode past, the mockingbird perched in the small shrub sang: “Oklahoma…where the cold wet wind comes sweepin’ down the muddy red plain….” (the bird did some editing.)