Friday, September 30, 2011

American Golden-Plovers

Thousands upon thousands of Killdeer have converged on this area, forming huge flocks.  A small flock of 18 birds landed in this field - some shorebirds that were likely plovers but weren't Killdeer.

The prairie soil around here is Dark Brown Chernozemic without much organic matter.  Decades of chemical-based farming has pretty much destroyed the soil and now many of the plowed fields are this clumpy grey.  I digress....

These juvenile American Golden-Plovers (Pluvialis dominica)  blend right in, don't they?

A slightly better view.

Frankly, these Am. Golden-Plovers look like the juveniles of the Black-belled Plovers, another common migrant - except the BBPLs have black axilliary (armpit) feathers in all plumage phases.  This bunch had light coloured axillaries.  Ergo, AGPL - the other similar plover species likely to be found here. (Qualifier, the Pacific Golden-Plover juveniles are almost identifical, but hey...)

For more info about American Golden-Plovers, go to All About Birds at 

Thursday, September 29, 2011


We are having a lovely, warm Fall so far.  I went out for a drive to see what birds are around.  Nothing of note except for increasing numbers of Sandhills Cranes, Canada Geese, a few Greater White-fronted Geese and a flock of 42 Am. Crows.

The Mantei-Ribling Marsh is full of water.  I guess it was last year as well.  However, in the previous 2-3 years, it was bone dry by Fall.  Nice to see the water table high, even if there was flooding.  Better than the drought.

The prairies don't enjoy the astounding profusion of Fall colours one sees in other parts of the continent.  But, perhaps the odd splashes of colour, such as along rivers and creeks, are even more poignant.

This is Wood-End, the Long Creek end of Boundary Dam reservoir, this morning

I love looking at horses.  I swing by this farm any chance I get.  There are two of these big Percheron draft horses (the other one was off away from this trio).  They go to 'pull' competitions. 

Click on pix for larger & clearer, if you want to.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Stealthy American Bittern

There were two Am. Bitterns (Botaurus lentiginosus) in a small marsh beside a road I travelled this flew farther into the marsh, the other hid among the cat-tails.

I waited, patiently.....

 I had no idea bitterns had such long, deadly-looking talons

 Bitterns eat amphibians, crayfish and fish

This one steadily kept on walking; no hunting while I was around. 

Click on pix for larger & clearer, if you want to.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Have you ever given any thought to how muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus)

spend the long, frozen Canadian Winters?

Well, I can't say for sure, but I saw this muskrat lodge along the highway near White Bear Lake.  Is that a....????

Looks like a satellite dish to me. 

The mystery may be solved. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Local Birding Yesterday

I went for a long drive-around yesterday to see what was going on in the local fields & sloughs. 

Sandhill Cranes were flying overhead in small flocks (10-20 birds) from time to time - also today.  Ten cranes, 7 adults & 3 juveniles, were at a large slough near Torquay.   12-13 Greater White-fronted Geese were also at this location, along with 75 Am. White Pelicans, 60+ American Avocets and 2 Greater Yellowlegs.

Most of the adult Eared and Pied-billed Grebes have gone elsewhere.  There are a lot of young to very young grebes left to fend for themselves, such as this baby Pied-billed Grebe below.  No adult was around.

This badger was slinking along a road.  It wasn't very big, so perhaps a young one.

When a flock of Sandhill Cranes spiralled over my yard this afternoon, I noticed a raptor of some sort very high above them, heading south.  Amazingly, I did not have any binoculars at hand, however I am pretty sure it was a Red-tailed.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Another Road Rescue

I air-lifted this turtle to the other side of the road .  Never mind chickens, why did the turtle cross the road?...??? 

Turtle refused to answer my question.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fridays With Freddie #2

Wow, just about missed this today. 

So many Firsts for me this week.  Prolly the biggest thing for me was trying out for the cheer squad!

Yes!  I'm a Saskatchewan Roughrider fan (who knew, guess I was born this way).

Got the yell  Go Ridersssss!  and the song going.  "Green is the colour, football is the game..."

And, a big High Five to the Riders for winning big (my mom says Finally!)

Big news, I'm getting my very own blog.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tiger Salamander

It's been so dry in the past few years that I haven't seen many Tiger Salamanders
(Ambystoma tigrinum).  

National Geographic says this about the Tiger Salamander:

Thick-bodied amphibians with short snouts, sturdy legs, and long tails, tigers are the largest land-dwelling salamander on Earth. They can grow to 14 inches (35 centimeters) in length, but the average size is more like 6 to 8 inches (15.2 to 20.3 centimeters).
They are also the most wide-ranging salamander species in North America, living throughout most of the United States, southern Canada, and eastern Mexico. They live in deep burrows, up to two feet (60 centimeters) below the surface, near ponds, lakes, or slow-moving streams and are one of few salamanders able to survive in the arid climate of the North America interior.
Highly voracious predators, they emerge from their burrows at night to feed on worms, insects, frogs, and even other salamanders.
Their population is healthy throughout their range, but deforestation, pollution, and rising acidity levels in their breeding pools is affecting their distribution. Many are even killed by cars as they cross roads in the spring en route to or from their breeding sites.
Tiger salamanders are long-lived, averaging 10 to 16 years in the wild.
This was a hurried photo shoot as there was a convoy of oilfield trucks not too far behind me.  I wanted both a photo and to get this little one off the road (and me too) before the trucks thundered by.  Mission accomplished. 

I saw two more not-so-lucky ones on the road that morning.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


There are six (6) Gray Partridges in this photos.  Can you find them?

Here's a closer look at three of them.

On my Sunday drive, I saw quite a few Huns in the areas close to the city. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fridays with Freddie #1

Really?  You think a barrier of toilet paper packages is going to keep me out of the bathroom?  Really?

I got shoved in the big pocket of my new mom's bathrobe - she seemed to need both hands to fix my breakfast.

I'm getting used to these bizarre house-pants my mom insists on wearing some days.  Makes my eyes go a little crazy...

or maybe it's just me, the crazy part, I mean!

I helped with the housework.  The mop is a lot of fun to ride.

We play alot.

See you next week, or maybe tomorrow on.....Caturday!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Least Chipmunk

In an effort to return to normal (oh, what is normal when there is a 3 week old kitten in the house?), I give you the Least Chipmunk (Tamias minimus) I managed to snap a photo of during a short stay at Good Spirit Provincial Park.  Sigh, I'll go quietly, Grammar Police.

Just one picture.  This little guy was even smaller than Freddie and quicker to scamper from one place to another!

According to the Kaufman Field Guide to Mammals of North America, this is the smallest chipmunk in North America and the one with the largest range.  It lives practically everywhere, has a varied diet, and some other info site stated this chipmunk does not need a water source to survive.  (I failed to save the page, sorry).

Gratuitous Freddie Foto