Sunday, March 31, 2013

Another Souris River Report

I'm starting to get Spring Fever.  The days are getting longer, the sun is higher in the sky and even if the air isn't particularly warm, the snow melts a little bit each day.  That said, there's still a solid 2-3 feet of the stuff all over my back yard.

So, this morning I grabbed my binoculars and camera and went for another drive, hoping to find some birds.  No birds, so I went out to Rafferty to see how the water release is going.

There has been some melting in the past couple of days; also an increase in the flow out of Rafferty. 

This is the Souris River south of Estevan along #18.  The water has breached the banks in low areas here too.  Nothing serious.

Ah, there are some birds.  Canada Geese and Mallards near the bank.  The goose in the middle of the stream is a Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)

At the Woodlawn Park bridge on #47

This is the low bridge at Vaugn's Crossing (east side of Woodlawn).  The water is pretty close to the bottom of the bridge.

Hopefully, this early release of water from Rafferty will prevent serious flooding as the Spring melt gets underway.  Surely this stuff WILL melt!

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Draining of Rafferty Reservoir

Or at least a partial drain of this vast reservoir on the Souris prep for Spring run-off.

There is an enormous amount of snow this year


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Impatiently Waiting for Spring

I went for a drive yesterday afternoon - the first drive-about I've done in a long time.  There's too much snow, plain and simple.  The roads are icy, the ditches are level-full of snow and it is still very, very cold here.  No, I can't seem to stop grumbling about this never-ending Winter. spite of the vast snow cover, it IS the time of year when the first migrants start showing up.   As well, I wanted to check on the Souris River.  Water has been released from Rafferty and Boundary all winter.

This is the river south of Shand Power Plant.  The water level is very high - this area was all under-water two Springs ago.

First of all, there are small herds of deer grazing for whatever poor quality grass is left to nibble.  These are White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

And their sentinel.

What is this big ol' woolly-looking bundle trundling along the rim of Boundary reservoir?

Mr. or Mrs. Yellowquill, I believe.  The North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) My trusty Kaufman Field Guide to Mammals of North America informs that this is our second-largest rodent and that it's sharp quills are actually modified hairs.

And then there were the tree-top grouse.  To me, there are some birds which just do not suit being at the top of a very tall tree among the more spindly branches.  (Cormorants are undoubtedly the silliest.)  A plump Sharp-tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus) at the top of a poplar looks rather awkward, or something. 


I guess the view is better; the buds probably taste about the same as the lower ones.

When I was driving back out of the little park at Boundary, I saw something sort of moving up ahead on the road.  I slowed...really?  Is that a...???

Yes, a young Richardson's Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus richardsonii), most affectionately known simply as 'gopher'.  It was only partly alert to its surroundings, probably not entirely awake from hibernation...and I could have picked it up easily enough.  (I didn't).  

I have no idea where it came from, as there were no bare spots of ground showing along the road or ditches for some distance.  Poor little buddy; I hope it found its way back to its home.

This is the Souris River at Woodlawn bridge.  The resident Canada Geese (Branta canadensis)  have been enjoying the open water on the river; some appear to be pairing off.  Also in the picture are three pairs of Northern Shovelers (Anas clypeata).  They are Spring arrivals.

Many signs of Spring out there.  Now, if this snow would melt....except that's bound to bring a lot of flooding.  It's going to be one of those years.