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    • Donald Sanders

    • May 11, 2019 in Columnists

    Through the glory hole at Lake Berryessa — the improbable survival of a cormorant

    I’m sure everybody has seen the video where the duck gets sucked into the glory hole at Lake Berryessa. The video, taken by Solano County Water Agency’s Rick Fowler has gone viral with over 110,000 views and 400 comments on Facebook. YouTube has gone wild with posts from Guardian News, ABC7 News Bay Area, CBS Sacramento, Little Star TV, Fox News, The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, The Independent, The Insider, and KCRA Sacramento, just to name a few.

    So what is the big deal about a duck getting sucked into the 200 foot deep glory hole? It’s summed up pretty well by the Wichita Eagle when they reported that the duck survived its little trip through the huge swirling hole that is the overflow for Lake Berryessa. The bird, a cormorant, actually, is capable of diving up to 150 feet deep to catch fish for its diner. A short walk from the opening of the glory hole to the edge of the dam gives you a view of the other end of the huge drain where Fowler saw the bird being spit out of the hole to revive itself in calmer water.

    Fowler said the bird shot out like a bullet going all the way across the creek where it shook itself off and gathered its wits. Fowler was surprised it had survived, but stranger things have happened throughout history. Fowler’s sister posted the video on Facebook and that’s when things started popping. The media’s interest spurred interviews with Fowler and several other “experts” on the glory hole where a controversy started about the question of the bird’s survival. All but Fowler claimed that the bird could not have survived.

    The media has gone crazy on this story! I saw Fowler several times today and his phone was constantly ringing. He has been hounded by the media seeking interviews. He says they have gone to the SCWA office in Vacaville looking for him and with hundreds of phone calls he is about ready to go into hiding to avoid them. He is bewildered by all of the attention.

    I know Fowler very well. He is by nature a loner; he’s a quiet, hard-working person, dedicated to his work of creek restoration. At work, he is all business and doesn’t have much time for those who can’t keep up with his pace. He is inherently honest, as all of the SCWA employees are. In his dealings with others, he is outspoken, which sometimes gets him into hot water. He knows what he’s doing and when he says something, I have learned through the years that he’s usually right. Unlike me, he likes to do things right and easy.

    To finish this off, I just saw the story again on ABC News. This time there was an interview with Fowler and again he was confident that the bird survived. If it had been anyone other than Rick Fowler I wouldn’t have believed it and as a matter of fact, even if it was Fowler himself who got sucked into the glory hole, I am confident that it would have spit him out alive because this guy is constantly surprising me with the things he does.

    SCWA, the Putah Creek Council, and the City of Winters should be proud of their great works. The work they have all done with the restoration of the waterways of the lower Putah Creek never ceases to amaze me. Fowler is one of a kind and it doesn’t surprise me that his video has gone viral for he is an interesting character. If you would like to learn more about him go online to my You Tube channel where you can find several videos I have posted about him. Go to YouTube and search for Donald K. Sanders where I have about 100 videos posted.

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