Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Grasslands National Park

Last weekend my wife and I enjoyed a few days of nature-watching and relaxation at Grasslands National Park with our friends from the local nature society. The park is in south-western Saskatchewan, and is as close as you can possibly get to the US border.
Rolling hills and plains are all you can see for miles around, and the park is home to Bison, Rattlesnakes and Burrowing Owls ( all of which I sadly did not see this time )
I had a few target species to find and was happy when I came home with some photos for my files.
A couple of bird species I have had fleeting glimpses of closer to home, but down south I ended up getting 5 new birds for my life list.
The weather was not kind to us for the first few days with pouring rain, strong winds and overcast skies, but it finally relented before we left, finishing up our trip in Cypress Hills , Maple Creek , Stewart Valley and Saskatchewan Landing.

Highlights were :

Lark Bunting
Chestnut-collared Longspur (lifer)
Yellow-breasted Chat (lifer)
Rock Wren (lifer)
Common Nighthawk
Long-billed Curlew
Dusky Flycatcher (lifer)
Estern Bluebird (lifer)

Also some cool new mammal species such as Black-tailed Prairie Dog.

Here are some new photos from the trip :

Black-tailed Prairie Dog

Lark Bunting

Chestnut-collared Longspur

Rock Wren

Common Nighthawk

Dusky Flycatcher

Coyote - During some heavy rain we found this Coyote with his meal of Richardson's Ground Squirrel :

Pronghorn Antelope

Garter Snake

Yellow Warbler

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Flycatchers, Swallows & More

I recently finished another May Day Bird count for the Saskatoon area. A good pal and I have done this count together now for the past 5 years and always have a blast.
Last year was exceptional , and because of the very late Spring , we had an amazing 140 species documented by the end of the day. This time the weather was against us, and it rained hard pretty much all day. This did not deter us though , and we stayed out from 7am till 7pm notching up 116 species in total.
We had some nice highlights including a (usually rare) eye-level view at an Olive-sided Flycatcher and many other hard-to find species such as Wood Duck, Dunlin and Sedge Wren.

This update includes a few soggy shots from the day, plus a few other new photos :

Olive-sided Flycatcher from the bird count

Alder Flycatcher from a recent morning at the Forestry Farm Park

Tree Swallow - The Swallows were having a real tough time on the day of the bird count and were pretty much grounded while it rained.

Bank Swallow

Tree & Cliff Swallow sharing same soggy perch

Horned Grebe from a recent visit to the Forestry Farm Park

Veery from the bird count

Dunlin in very poor light from the bird count

Wilson's Snipe from a recent drive in the country

Brown Thrasher from a recent river walk