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26683Great Egret colony, Black-backed Woodpecker nest and other highlights of trip from Duck Mountain Park to Quill lakes and Saskatoon on June 2, 2014

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  • Shadick, Stan
    Jun 3, 2014
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      Hello Saskbirders,


      On 2014 June 2, Robert Johanson, John Patterson, Kyron Giroux and I enjoyed a great 21-hour day birding marathon from Saskatchewan’s Duck Mountain Provincial Park at dawn  to Quill Lakes in late afternoon and to  Brightwater Marsh near Saskatoon after nightfall. Light rain and overcast conditions kept the songbirds very active in the park all morning. Shorebirds and dark-headed gulls were absent from most of our route except for road 640 between the Quill Lakes north of Wynyard. We found a total of 157 species for the day. If we had another hour of daylight, we should have found several more  birds in the Saskatoon area.


      Here are some highlights.


      Duck Mountain Park


      Barred Owls:  heard calling between midnight and 3:30 am from Jackfish lake road south of the highway and from the road north of the highway towards Pickerel Point campground.

      EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE: heard a bird giving a rising pee-wee call that I suspect was this species. It was in a clump of mature spruce forest just a few hundred meters south of the main highway along the Batka Lake road.  I have not previously located them in this park but have found them at other Saskatchewan locations near the Manitoba border.

      Broad-winged Hawk: one bird was seen and heard within this same clump of mature forest.

      Nashville Warbler: Several were found along the trail that turns off the Ski Hills road a few hundred meters from the Ski Hill entrance.

      Blackburnian Warbler: very common at Pickerel point and other areas of the park.

      Canada Warbler: One bird seen and heard near the Duck Mt.  lodge.

      Bay-breasted Warbler: One bird heard in the Jubilee subdivision.

      Black-throated Green Warblers: Commonly heard along the road to the Benito cottage subdivision. A few heard in other areas.

      Northern Waterthrush: One bird seen and heard along the Ski Hill road where water has recently crossed the road.

      Chestnut-sided Warblers: Commonly found in shrubs in many areas of the park.

      Other warblers: Ovenbird, Orange-crowned, Tennessee, Yellow-rumped, Magnolia, Black-and-white and Redstart also found within park.

      BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER: pair observed near a nest located in spruce bog on east side of Ski Hill road well south of Batka Lake. At this location, the road is actually  a few meters inside Manitoba.

      Double-crested Cormorants observed roosting in dead flooded trees near washed-out boardwalk at north end of Pickerel Point campground.

      Olive-sided Flycatcher: one bird seen at north end of Pickerel Point campground.

      BROWN CREEPER: We were very lucky to observe a pair of Brown Creepers within 2 meters of us on some dead spruce trees in the bog near the former nature centre by the park Maintenance area. Both birds carried a small white moth in their bills as they climbed the trees. I wondered if they were using the moth to line their nest and were searching for sap to act as glue.

      Bald Eagle: a single immature bird was briefly observing flying north of Benito subdivision.

      Common Loon: Birds were seen and heard from all of the larger lakes.


      ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK: We had a good view of one very late bird west of Canora. This made 4 buteo species for the day but we missed finding any falcons.


      Quill Lakes


      GREAT EGRET COLONY: While using 85+ mm diameter spotting scopes to scan the gulls and waterfowl on the flooded portion of Middle Quill (Mud) Lake from road 640, we noticed that several distant clumps of dead trees had roosting and perhaps nesting Cormorants. Two clumps of trees located to the south of a cluster of 3 metal granaries had white birds roosting. At least one pair seemed to be standing next to each other on a nest. When some of these birds stretched their necks and flew a short distance, we realized that they were Great Egrets based upon their all-white wings, bill colour and relative proportions of neck and body. We saw at least 5 Great Egrets at this location, which I would estimate as 2 miles east of road 640. Due to heat haze, the view was relatively poor. Without the use of these high-quality scopes, I doubt that we would have noticed them at all. The “Atlas of Saskatchewan Birds” published by Nature Saskatchewan notes that great egrets nested at Middle Quill Lake in 1976.

      RED KNOT: A group of about 5 birds were observed from road 640.

      RUDDY TURNSTONE: about 15 birds were observed from road 640.

      Black-bellied Plover: A few were seen near road 640.

      Sanderling: these were the most abundant shorebirds seen from road 640.

      Semipalmated Plover: a pair was observed from road 640.

      Semipalmated Sandpiper: a few were seen from road 640. No other peeps were found. We found almost no shorebirds at any other location on our route.

      Franklin’s Gull: Extremely numerous near the Quill Lakes. This gull was not observed anywhere else on our trip.


      Saskatoon Birding Area


      PIPING PLOVER: A single bird was observed on an island within a mining waste pond on the west side of the highway near the Allan potash mine.

      Sharp-tailed Grouse: At least 7 birds were still dancing after sunset at the lek south of Bradwell that is frequently visited by Saskatoon Nature Society field trips.

      YELLOW RAIL: A rapidly calling rail was heard after nightfall near the willows from the “Indi” road across the southern portion of Brightwater Marsh. A second rapidly-calling bird was heard a few miles north near a group of willows next to the road.

      Nelson’s Sparrow: very numerous at Brightwater Marsh and other marshes near Blackstrap Lake. These birds seem to call more frequently after nightfall. We did not find any at these locations on May 24.


      Birders following this route should note that the boardwalk on the former nature trail at the north end of Pickerel Point in Duck Mountain Park has been washed away by high water levels. The nature trail and interpretive centre have been closed and removed from the vicinity of the maintenance area. Access to the Wadena Wetlands Viewing tower is impossible due to flooding on the final portion of the access road. Some marsh birds can be viewed from the end of the approach road before it is flooded.

      All buildings have been removed from the former regional park near Clair.

      The Quill lakes have vastly overflowed their normal boundaries. There is no shoreline at our normal access point along the northern portion of Little Quill Lake. Big and Middle Quill Lakes have overflowed onto fields and water now approaches grid road 640 from both sides where it passes between these 2 lakes.



      Stan Shadick




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