Exploring Ozark Creeks

Like exploring Ozark hills, exploring Ozark creeks always brings something new to look at. On a hot summer day, creek exploration can be cool as well.

Our creek runs year round. More than four inches of rain overnight brings the water level up. More than six inches becomes a flood. Fencing across the creek is impossible.

exploring Ozark creeks
After several weeks of no real amounts of rain, this Ozark creek water level has dropped. It still has places deep enough to go wading and provide homes for fish and other creatures.

As rain is scarce over the summer, the water level drops to a trickle between pools. The water continues to flow, but down in the gravel.

I like to wade in the creek with boots on. The coolness seeps through. The mud doesn’t.

snail exploring Ozark creeks
Aquatic snails have dull brown shells and glide over rocks eating algae. When alarmed, they pull back into their shells pulling their operculum door closed behind them.

My Ozark creek has a gravel bed. Algae grows on the gravel and an army of snails glides over the algae dining on it. Crayfish also called crawdads eat a lot of algae too.

Lots of creatures live in the creek. Many live under the rocks. Turning a larger rock over reveals stone chips cemented together to form a shelter for a caddis fly larva.

Water pennies are here and there. Mayfly larvae squirm in the sheen of water trying to get away. Replacing the rock as it was lets these creatures return to normal.

water penny
Looking almost like a living trilobite from the top, a water penny stays on the underside of larger rocks and eats the algae it finds there. These live only in unpolluted creeks. They are barely a half inch long.

Larger creatures try to hide under the rocks as a tall shadow usually heralds a great blue heron or other predator. Sitting quietly on the bank lets the panic subside and the creatures creep out again.

Exploring Ozark creeks reveal a variety of fish. Darters are bottom dwellers. They live under the rocks and dart out to eat algae, dart under another rock.

Madtoms live under the larger rocks. These are small catfish with big appetites for other fish.

blue gill fish in Ozark creek
Minnows are the most numerous fish in my Ozark creek. Here and there are some deep pools and a few blue gill still hang out there. Photographing underwater creatures is difficult as the autofocus bounces off the water surface.

Minnows ply the waters trolling for insects and other tasty morsels that drop in for lunch. A deeper pool under the bridge harbors a few small bluegills.

As I write more on “The Carduan Chronicles,” these aliens have found an Ozark creek. For the Carduans, being only four inches tall, it is a river. Exploring this river gains them gravel for building and food in the form of minnows and crayfish.

For me, I have another excuse to go exploring Ozark creeks.

Visit my Ozark creek in different seasons in “My Ozark Home.”