Lake Hodges is one of my go-to places for walks with Toni, as it is only about 10 minutes away from our home. The lake is an artificial reservoir built in the early 20th century. Originally it was meant to protect the valley below the dam from (then apparently frequently occurring) flooding, so that the Santa Fe railroad (who owned the land) could sell it at a better price (and that’s not the official version of course, but if you look hard enough you can find bits of information about that online:-).
Lake Hodges has now become a great refuge for birds. Year-round we see Western Grebe and Clark’s Grebe there, as well as cormorants, cattle egret, snowy white egret, white and gray herons, and of course mallards and coots. In Winter, white pelicans also visit the lake. And birdwatchers with telescopes and photographers lugging incredibly long and heavy lenses can frequently be seen there in the wild as well.
In 2011, the lake’s water level was really high, after a very wet winter it was overflowing at the dam actually when it reached 100% capacity. After three dry winters, it is now around 30% capacity. Bushes are growing three or four feet high where there was water in 2011.