Blackstrap and Brightwater
- On Tuesday 23rd April, we decided to travel south from Saskatoon for
a change to check out two of the "Hot Spots" listed in the recently
published "Birds of the Saskatoon Area". These were Blackstrap
Reservoir and the nearby Brightwater Marsh. My one problem with
large areas such as these is the distance between the watcher and
some of the birds which is why I tend to prefer patch birding. That
said, it was a beautiful day and we did enjoy the "hunt", there was
however a wind of 25kph at times causing fair sized waves on the
more open areas of the still partially frozen Blackstrap and the
wide open Brightwater Marsh, these waves easily hid some of the
smaller ducks and grebes at times especially given their habit of
diving just as you manage to get focused.
I have not attempted to give totals of birds seen as this is not
possible for 2 birders on such large areas, but we were well pleased
with some of the sightings.
At Blackstrap Reservoir:
Scaup sp. (probably Lesser) a flock of 40 on the North End slough.
Grey Partridge, 1 pair.
Northern Harrier, 1 female
Common Merganser, 1 pair.
Franklin's Gull, quite a few near the causeway.
Common Loon, 1 very close to the causeway giving good views, 1 more
heard calling in the distance.
Ruddy Duck, 2
Double-crested Cormorant, 14+
Horned Grebe,2, from the causeway, on the north side sheltering from
American Kestrel, 1 male seen about half a mile to the west of the
At Brightwater Marsh: Large numbers of ducks along the entire length
of the marsh but not all identifiable due to the windy conditions
Red-tailed Hawk, 3
Mountain Bluebird, 2
Yellow-headed Blackbird, 1 among
Red-winged Blackbird, dozens.
Northern Harrier, 1male, 1 female.
Greater Yellowlegs, 3 at the north end of the marsh where the road
turns. Very close views down to about 25 feet. Noted the slightly
upturned bill, folded wing tips level with the tip of the tail, bold
stripes on flanks, unfortunately no other birds nearby to get a size
For those getting the chance to visit this area but are pushed for
time Brightwater Marsh gets my vote over Blackstrap but that is just
my opinion. As mentioned in the report for the Regina group trip,
very few passerines were encountered, I would of expected to see
more in the way of sparrows with these warm temperatures and
I must confess little experience with Brightwater Marsh; however, I would
think that Blackstrap Reservoir is perhaps a better area. It would perhaps
depend upon which species you wish to see. Some of the marsh birds, waders
and dabbler ducks may indeed be more plentiful at Brightwater. A question
may be the viewing angles and ability to study the area.
Veteran Saskatoon birders would perhaps be in a better position to answer
this than me. I would be curious to know other viewpoints about the relative
merits of these two sites.
One of the better aspects of Blackstrap is the accessibility. The majority
of the reservoir can be covered via a scope from various viewing sites. The
north and south dykes plus the causeway area are perhaps the best areas. Is
this type of coverage possible for Brightwater?
A negative for Blackstrap could be the boat traffic.
These are some of the memorable sightings that I have enjoyed at Blackstrap
: Black-necked Stilt, Sabine's Gull, Black Scoter, Barrow's Goldeneye,
Red-throated Loon, Pacific Loon, Mew Gull (Twice), Least Tern , Little Gull
and King Eider. I suspect that many other species could be added to this
list by resident birders. Also, I wish to be clear that I only discovered a
few of these.
It is also a good place in fall for Gyrfalcons and the usual assortment of
waterfowl and raptor migrants.
- Brightwater may be fine destination. I haven't birded that area much.
Blackstrap Reservoir is perhaps one of the best birding spots in the
Some of the rare sightings that I have had for Blackstrap include: King
Eider, Little Gull, Least Tern, Sabine's Gull, Black-necked Stilt, Mew Gull,
Pacific and Red-throated Loon. Others may have more
- This morning at Condie there were:3 Tree Swallows1 Ruby Crowned Kinglet1 Yellow-rumped Warbler1 White Crowned Sparrow8 Vesper Sparrows3 Red-necked GrebesAlso heard a Wild Turkey.Jared
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- I spent a couple hours around Condie this evening.The ticks were out
in full force already and I been still picking off a few.The wind was
still fairly brisk and the lighting conditions weren't the best for
I seen the following species tonight,northern harrier,kestrel,red
tailed hawk,blue winged teal,lesser scaup,mallard,pintail,coot,red
winged blackbirds in abundance, the ever present ring billed gulls and
canada geese,western meadow lark,mourning dove,robin,pair of grey
partridge,and a male and female pheasant just as I was leaving.
I managed to squeeze off a couple of pics of the male pheasant before
he disappeared.the light was getting pretty bad by then and I was down
to a 60th of a second(shutter speed)..not the best for getting a sharp
shot with a 400 mm lens out the window of my truck.I was still happy
with it though considering I very rarely see one of these beautiful
birds. Take care fellow birders-Rocky M.-Regina
- I went out to Condie for a walk this morning. I saw my first Snow Geese of the fall as a flock of about 100 passed overhead. Yellow-Rumped Warblers were everywhere but few other warblers were there except for a pair of Palm Warblers. A large flock of about 100 Barn Swallows were also hanging around and good numbers of Goldfinches and Cedar Waxwings were present. Some of the expected waterfowl was around, but in lower numbers than the last couple weeks.
- Out and about today, Condie, Valeport, W of Strasbourg.
At Condie: Canada Geese, 6 ring billed gulls, 1 Bonaparte's, and the GH Owl in the nest.
Valeport: the road is a mess, but parking up top and walking down: we saw chickadees, and a lot of Canada Geese, as with at the 2 large sloughs just W of Strasbourg.
Fran in Regina
- Correction: Franklin not Bonaparte, I concur Laurie THANK YOU! :)
--- In Saskbirds@yahoogroups.com, "prairiesfran" <prairiesfran@...> wrote:
> Out and about today, Condie, Valeport, W of Strasbourg.
> At Condie: Canada Geese, 6 ring billed gulls, 1 Bonaparte's, and the GH Owl in the nest.
> Valeport: the road is a mess, but parking up top and walking down: we saw chickadees, and a lot of Canada Geese, as with at the 2 large sloughs just W of Strasbourg.
> Fran in Regina
- One of my favourite spots is the Condie nature refuge. In summer it is a mecca of birds. It's a little slow right now but there are some phesants that live there so I'll periodically go and see if they are around. I've uploaded a picture of one I saw last week.