Sunday 30 June 2013

Saskatchewan Road Trip Part 1

June 1 2013 Regina Beach, Craven, Valeport and Rowan's Ravine. Saskatchewan

The area around Regina is ideally situated for a great birding holiday. I returned from Churchill via Winnipeg and caught the overnight Greyhound bus to Regina, apart from renting an expensive one-way rental car it was the only way to get to my next birding area.
Regina and area (see map inset for location) is on the main Central flight path and provides great birding from March through to November. Ducks and geese arrive even when the ponds and sloughs are still frozen. One of the the highlights are the Whooping and Sandhill Crane flocks that pass through Rowan's Ravine area in April and May. The wide open fields offers food and protection as they make their way to Wood Buffalo Park to nest. During my early June visit the rearing process was already well under way.

American Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) at Regina Beach. Regina Beach is where Regina should have been built and is at the southern tip of Last Mountain Lake. Clark's, Western, Pied, Horned, Red-necked and Eared Grebe can be found there.

Plan to spend a week here. Thirty minutes North-West of Regina there are hundreds of miles of birding. Rowans Ravine and campsite is at the Last Mountain Bird Observatory.

Brown Thrasher ( Toxostoma refum)
Finally a Brown thrasher that would trust me enough to get a few pictures. I was at Rowan's Ravine when I spotted a Brown Thrasher in the undergrowth, a bird I had never photographed. Later I found another pair in the hedgerows of the campground where they perched before dropping down to feed on insects and worms.

Bison used to roam this area prior to First Contact. From Yellowstone in the south to Edmonton and east to Winnipeg millions of Bison and  Pronghorn Antelope made an annual northward migration in search of fresh food sources. Sometimes called the 'Serengeti of North America'  the herds were followed by Grizzly, Black Bear and Mountain Lion.
 Then there were the birds, although numbers have decreased dramatically enough remnants population remain for us to study and enjoy. Fortunately nature has been resilient, some prairie species have decreased by 80% (Sprague's Pipit) while others populations like the Western Meadowlark and Horned Lark have adapted to the changing landscape. 

Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) feeds on an abundance of insects at Rowan's Ravine. The campsite and surrounding paths and roads are a wonderful place to see many grassland birds. For those with a boat there is access to Last Mountain Lake with its Pelicans, Cormorants, Gulls and shorebirds.

Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus)
Driving between Rowan's Ravine and Regina Beach I always taken the road less travelled with the chance of seeing one of my favourite birds, the Bobolink.  Bobolink nest in fields and wet meadows and can often be seen sitting on barbed wire and fenceposts. The Bobolink has one of the longest migrations of all songbirds spending the winter east of the Andes in South America. Once common, their numbers have plummeted due to loss of habitat and hunting on migration. They once existed in the tens of millions.

1 comment:

  1. John, excellent images! My what a wonderful birding holiday you're having!