Green And White, Green And White!!!...
- Fellow Birders,
At least one team in this province can still play football! It
wasn't pretty, but the Huskies have a chance to complete a dream
season on Saturday as they host Laval in the Vanier Cup. The city
will be rocking this week to be sure! The best part is I should be
off-for-miles by then and will be able to watch it. We don't have
tickets, but will either have friends over, or perhaps get ourselves
Yesterdays Grey Cup saw me arrive home from Wainwright with minutes
to spare, where we hosted the game with a few of our friends.
While, not a 'classic', it did have its moments. B.C. certainly was
the best team this year and they managed to keep the Cup in the west
where it belongs.
Some more archival material from moi:
303 is waaay late tonight, so Cond. Wayne Christopherson and I are
called to taxi to Wainwright at 2130 hrs. Highway 14 is still in
horrible shape from the previous storm and it's 60 k/h for us and
driver Ron the first hour or so. Marginally better after that (and
also in Alberta), we finally get to our destination four hours later.
Fortunately, 304 is also late and we have a decent sleep. Our call
comes in for 0805. On this solemn day, I remember my Mom's three
brothers who served our country. George was a Wellington bomber
pilot. Herve joined the Navy and spent time in the North Atlantic.
Charlie was a sapper in the infantry. I remember in particular my
uncle George, shot down and killed with his crew while on a night
mission near Dusseldorf, Germany on the night of June 21, 1943.
Sandra's Dad also made it overseas with his infantry division just
prior to the end of the war.
We leave Wain at 0835 with the old 5457 leading and newer 5615
trailing. Behind us are 88 cars/6000 tons/4867 feet of mixed
commodities. Traffic is fairly light today. As a result we hit
Biggar a little over three hours later.
Bald Eagle - 4 (2 definite adults, 2 more undetermined dark shapes)
flying into the fog over Reflex Lake at Artland.
Gray Part - 12 Art.; 8 Unity.
Com Raven - 8 Winter; 10 at the dump W of Unity.
Snow Bunt - 5 Sifto Salt (E Unity) and 10 at Scott.
S-t Grouse - 2 Cavell.
Sharp-shinned Hawk - One adult just E of Cavell is one of the later
records for the Rosetown-Biggar area.
W Meadow - Another surprise is a bird just W of Palo siding.
Coyote - 1 E Artland.
My Mom is visiting relatives in Calgary, so I stop in to check on
the house and get the suet feeders up. The old hopper full of black
oil sunflowers is all the birds have been getting so far this fall.
I haven't been in as big a panic, since the neighbours across the
alley also have a couple of feeding stations going. They've been
feeding birds for several years. However, the big surprise is next
door. The neighbours to the west have erected two plastic hopper
feeders (six holes, six perches like ours here in S'toon), two
wooden hoppers full of seeds, as well as two seed bells!
In checking the TV, I discover that the Huskie/Manitoba Canada West
Football final is only minutes away. I phone Sandra and swing a
deal where I'll get the suet mixed and watch the first half of the
game. Then I'll pick up Morgan from work downtown on my way home
and save her another trip. She actually thinks it's a good idea.
So between the three yards and the television there is plenty of
action for the next hour and a half:
B-b Magpie - 1
Blue Jay - 2
B-c Chick - 15+
Boreal Chick - 1. This species is now a semi-regular winter visitor
White-breasted Nuthatch - 1 male. There are fewer than 10 records
for our study area, so this is a pretty rare sight.
N Flicker - A yellow-shafted bird flies through the yard.
Downy Wpkr - 1 female.
White-throated Sprw - A lovely white-striped adult is at the
neighbours seed bell. We have a few winter records for the region,
but this would be a new Biggar CBC species if it decides to tough it
out until then.
D-e Junco - 2 'Slate-coloured' males.
House Finch - 12+, including a yellow variant male.
House Sprw - 10+
I leave town just past 1700 and head back to the city. I listen to
the rest of the game on the radio. The boys stuff the Bisons in the
second half and advance to the Mitchell Bowl next week in Ottawa.
The horn on the Escape gets quite a workout! I pick up my daughter
and we get home to a nice supper and a celebratory drink or two...
- Fellow Birders,
I just realized I'd somehow failed to mention the fantastic
performance of our beloved Roughriders last weekend. What a gutsy
game our boys played, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
While I'm fairly confident regarding our chances in the Coupe De
Grey, there is an old saying: "on any given Sunday".
Thanks to Ryan who gave an excellent account of our cold and lonely
vigil above the east shore of the mighty South Saskatchewan earlier
this evening. I'm officially 0 for 4 in attempts to see the
Barrow's. In the lame excuse department, two of those were brief 10
minute searches while in the midst of running errands. Still
I'll tell another boring story instead. On Thursday, Nov. 22nd (a
dark day in human history), Nick and I decided we'd make an attempt
to re-locate the BA GO. However at the last minute, I came up with
the bright idea to make a run down to Blackstrap to see if there was
any open water. Needless to say, we were also going to pick up a
bunch of late and rare waterfowl species in the process!
It was a very chilly 12, but skies were mostly clear when I picked
up my English compadre around 0930 hrs. Brrr, we're not used to this
double digit cold yet, after a fairly decent fall. We made our
customary stop at Tim's, and hit Hwy. 11, the 'racetrack to Regina'.
There wasn't much in the way of birds heading down, but we did see 3
separate Ravens and a couple of Magpies. Both species were
associated with the usual dead Mule Deer (in this case, at least four
carcasses) that are a sad reality along this stretch of highway. Our
first "good" bird was in the form of a beautiful adult Bald Eagle
that flew west across our path, about 16 clicks south of town.
Since I was 99 percent sure the south end of the lake would be iced
over, we turned east at Dundurn and aimed for the causeway, where the
water usually remains open as freeze-up approaches. Dropping down
after the big left hand curve in the road, we were dismayed to find
that the lake itself appeared totally white! Oh well. However, we
could see a small patch of water open on the south side of the
bridge, and that there were indeed a few dark blobs floating in it.
Sneaking down the hill, we "crawled" slowly by the birds which were
basically right beside the road. We noted the following:
Com Gldeye 2 (2m, 1f)
Redh 4 (1m, 3f)
Less Scaup 2 f
Mall 4 (3m, 1f)
Since we'd come all this way, we figured we might as well turn south
at the junction to check out the campsites and the big pimple area
itself. As we entered the Provincial Park, another ad Baldie flew
out of some trees and disappeared southward into the breeze. A short
while later, we had a couple B-c Chicks. Nick also saw what he was
sure was a Hairy Woodpecker, but I didn't get onto it time.
South of the mountain, we noticed a pile of dark forms a click or so
SW of us sitting on what appeared to be ice. We drove as close as we
could and set up our scopes in the chilling wind for a few minutes.
It actually turned out to be a raft of at least 600+ Canada Geese,
keeping a small hole open in the middle of the lake. As we scanned
the flock, we could make out at least 12+ Tundra Swans and about ten
more Mallards. There could have been more ducks hidden among all the
much larger geese, but we were a bit too far away to see if this was
indeed true. Out there in the elements for a few minutes with that
wind made me glad that I'd put on long undies!
What to do next? We decided to retrace our steps and head up to
Shields townsite on the west shore of the lake. As we approached the
causeway again, we noticed that there was a sliver of water open on
the north side of the bridge as well. Checking it out, we discovered
a bonus female Am Wigeon, plus four additional Mallards. After
identifying these birds from a respectable distance, we drove over
the bridge at a `normal' rate of speed, so as not to disturb them.
Shields was VERY quiet, even at crawling speed---we only saw a pair
of Black-caps. From the compost site north of the village, we could
see a couple large flocks of geese sitting on holes in the ice.
Another ad Bald Eagle perched on the lake nearby, with at least 4
Ravens surrounding him. We speculated that he'd likely caught
something and the corvids were trying to get some breakfast scraps
We then doubled back thru Shields and headed north to join the east-
west road that would return us to Hwy. 11. As we did, the geese
began leaving the lake area and flew west over us, heading out to
feed. We estimated there were 1200+ birds. As one line of `Giants'
flew over us, we noticed a pair of probable Cackling Geese in the
middle. They were comparatively tiny! The drive back to the city
was uneventful. More Ravens (likely some of the same birds heading
down) and a large flock of 45+ Rock Pigs which were new for the day.
Since both of us were free until one o'clock, we thought we'd make a
try at the weir for the Barrow's and whatever else we could turn up.
We arrived at the dam shortly before noon, found a parking spot and
set up our scopes. Almost immediately, we found the female Harly.
Nick dug out his camera, and as many of you will have seen by now,
got some very decent shots to document its presence.
Other species noted included:
Can Goose 85+
Canv 1 m
Redh 5 (1m, 4f)
Less Scaup - 3
Buff 2 (1m, 1f)
Com Gold 30+
B-b Mag 2
During our 45 minute stay, we had short visits with two local
birders. Robert Johanson stopped by briefly to add the HA DU to his
list. He was followed a few minutes later by Richard Kerbes who also
had a quick look.
I had to head down 8th Street on the way home. As I was stopped by
the traffic light at Albert And Walters, I noticed there was a flock
of 10 House Sparrows sitting in a small tree by the restaurant. Hey,
they count too!
Must get to bed. The line-up shows me on speed 101 sometime during
the night. Hopefully things will fall into place and I'll make it
home in plenty of time for the biggest Rider contest in ten years!
GO RIDERS GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!