Marten Stoffel and I made a trip to the boreal forest yesterday, hoping mainly to see forest owls. We knew there were some owls north and east of Prince Albert, but we wanted to check more of the eastern part of the forest fringe.
We headed out just before 8 A.M. and headed north to Blaine Lake, then Debden, Green Lake, Meadow Lake, Loon Lake, Turtle Lake Park, North Battleford and back to Saskatoon. Low temperature was -36°C, high was -18°C, but with little wind it wasn't bad at all.
We did see Evening and Pine Grosbeaks, a grand total of three Snow Buntings, many ravens, some magpies, very few House Sparrows, a few Rock Pigeons, one Blue Jay, a handful of Black-capped Chickadees, and one each of Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers.
What we didn't see were raptors. In over 900 kms. from Saskatoon and back, we saw no owls, no eagles, no hawks, no falcons and no shrikes (my honorary raptor). I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't been along. We called at perhaps a dozen locations for Barred, Great Gray and Northern Hawk Owls, and, other than a few agitated ravens and chickadees, we got no response.
At least on Sunday, on the way from Kyle to Saskatoon, I did see ten Snowy Owls and a pair of Great Horned Owls, but I'm still in disbelief that we were shut out yesterday on what, for both of us, was a long trip.