We’ve all heard the old saying, “if you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute and it will change.” They say that in lots of places but there may be few other locations where it's as true as it is in Oklahoma. Things change around here very quickly. During one recent week, there were single digit temperatures with zero degree wind chill on a Tuesday but it was sixty degrees by Friday. That’s a pretty regular occurrence these days, actually. While it’s in the seventies, possibly reaching eighty, on this February day, winter is supposed to be back this weekend, with temperatures dropping back down into the low-to-mid thirties.
These conditions can make for some interesting winter bug collections, which are happening right now all over the state. During the week I mentioned a moment ago, I was in Tahlequah doing a bug collection on Town Branch Creek on the frigid Tuesday, when our weather app noted a “real feel” temperature of zero degrees. The creek was flowing, though, and had no ice, making a bug collection possible. Volunteer Jahna Hill, pictured here, prepared for the weather, and I got in the water and did three good bug kicks into our net, which froze solid after the third and final attempt. As soon as we had our bug sample in a mason jar for safe keeping, Jahna completed most of her quality assurance work in the warmth of her pickup truck.
Jahna and I were certainly not alone in our chilly experience. Our new volunteer David Mayes made his first visit with Kim to Hog Creek, a few miles south of Choctaw, in similar below freezing temperatures. Temps were a bit better, at least above freezing, when Kim visited the creek she monitors with her mom, Crutcho Creek, under Interstate 40 in Del City. At another end of Crutcho Creek, Karen Pryor, daughter Katie, and friend Ava McCaffrey wrapped themselves in layers of winter apparel when they monitored and picked up trash on a cold day at their site. Chase Iddings and Makenna Hakill are brand new volunteers, having just completed a volunteer training workshop a few weeks ago. For their first visit to a creek and first bug collection, they were bundled up against the cold at Rock Creek, where the nearby pools were completely iced over. Lightning Creek was also frozen over, and had basically been turned into a lake, making a bug collection impossible for volunteer Josh Campbell.
Not to be left out, Candice has also been making visits to creeks with hardy volunteers willing to get in the water and kick for bugs no matter the temperature. Her volunteers at Stillwater Creek at Babcock Park, in Stillwater, arrived at the creek at 8:00am, ready to go, even though it was cold enough that Candice reported her camera stopped working. Some of our youngest volunteers have been among the bravest about getting in their creek in the cold, including students from the Oklahoma School of Innovation and Experiential Learning in Bixby and students from the town of Hogden, who collected bugs in the Black Fork of the Poteau River in the southeast part of the state. Interestingly, Candice has also been seeing lots of problems with low flow at her creeks, due in part to the lack of precipitation during what has been a very dry winter. During one of her recent collection days in Tulsa, only half of the streams got bug collections due to the low flow conditions. The situation is pretty drastic in some of these creeks, like the completely dry Cotton Creek in Nowata County, pictured below.
Visit our Facebook page for lots more great photos of all of these frosty winter bug collections.
And many thanks to all the volunteers who participated in them!!