Field Sparrows at Roche Percee
I never meant to suggest that John Luce didn't see Field Sparrows. The two
birds that he reported may have left the area or wandered upstream towards
Estevan into an area that can't be accessed except by canoe.
We just could not find them between Roche Percee and Oxbow in spite of a two
day intensive search of the various areas. I suppose that is a more fair and
- Friday night we spent two hours at Valeport marsh watching Western Grebes.
One pair did a vertical dance across the water. Later another pair offered
weed to each other, rising up out of the water as far as they could and
circling, bills touching.
Ruddy ducks were displaying. We heard a Virginia Rail for the first time.
We then spent a few minutes near the Little Church. No rails, and, as usual,
we missed Bob.
But we found a good way to see a lot of fireflies: use your binoculars to
look far across the field. Even 30 mm binos collect a lot more light than
the unaided eye, and what looked like a dark, lifeless vista with the naked
eye became a galaxy of flickering light through the binos.
Saturday evening was a treat at Wascana Marsh near Candy Cane park: 54 nests
of Eared grebes were scattered across the lake, and the place was hopping
what with weed gathering, egg inspecting and neighbour chasing.
- On July 01, there were two singing males near Roche Percee with one
providing excellent scope views. One was calling in the distance within the
Long Creek area and another close by on a hillside to the southwest of the
"Pierced Rocks" directly opposite the large white 'pylon' which commerates
the area. This bird sat up in a dead elm tree just after dawn and sang at 20
meters, Unfortunately, this area is close to a house and the bird is, as
they always are, shy. As the light increased the bird became wary and flew
down into thicker vegetation. I made another brief stop later and the same
thing happened. I used the car as a blind.
All of the Field Sparrows that I have seen at Roche Percee are the 'western'
or plain faced variety. Check Sibley. However,one that was detected at Birch
Hills a few years ago during the CBC was of the eastern type with rich
Other birds seen within the area included one brief view of a male
Black-headed Grosbeak in response to a taped call of a Red-Shouldered Hawk.
I heard only one brief song from grosbeak species during the entire trip.
I saw a smaller buteo along the roadside near the 'Wildlife Lands', east of
Roche Percee, and attempted to entice it into the open across the Souris.
Also present at that location were a pair of very agitated Yellow-breasted
Chats and a distant singing Yellow-throated Vireo.
Further to the east where the Portal Grid crosses the Souris River there was
another singing bird. (This is the property that is for sale near the
bridge.) There are large poplars, Eastern Cottonwoods and other mature
I was scolded by an obviously agitated Yellow-throated Vireo further to the
east about halfway to the intersection of the North Souris Road and Highway
# 9. This year this species apparently has nested in hillside poplar forest
as Dutch Elm disease has wiped out that riparian component. This is the same
area that I have found two nests previously.
An Eastern Wood-Pewee was in plain view at Longney's Crossing.
A sole female Hooded Merganser was in the oxbow where I have seen broods
previously. I saw no Wood Ducks;however, made no special effort to see them.
At least four male Lazuli Buntings were singing at various sites including
the Roche Percee Picnic Site plus along the western section of the general
area. The 'Bed and Breakfast' area had the one furthest east.
There were many family groups of White-breasted Nuthatches, Eastern
Bluebirds and other species.
I saw a family group plus a nest of House Finches at the park south of
Oxbow. Also present in an adjacent spruce tree was a pair of Orchard Orioles
and a nesting Western Kingbird.
Orchard Orioles are early migrants with family groups moving as soon as they
are able to fly. Southern birds leave the USA as early as July 01. It was no
surprise that I saw a family group south of Carieville first foraging in a
roadside field and later moving southeastward across an open space towards
the town of Sherwood, North Dakota.
Unfortunately, I was a little late in locating potential Dickcissel's within
the extensive hay growing area of the extreme southeast bordering Manitoba
and North Dakota. Much of the lush alfalfa and clover had been recently cut.
I saw approximately eight Monarch/Viceroy type Butterflies plus a black
swallowtail? Other than this Sulphur's were quite common. They appeared to
be very orange.
Other highlights, include seeing my first Eastern Cottontail Rabbit within
the Province at the Roche Percee Picnic Site plus the numerous flowering
The heat was incredible as the temperatures soared to 34 degrees!!!