Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Big Day Out in the Prairies

Black-necked Grebe feeding chick

Our last real chance of a big birding trip before returning home to the UK.  We decided to head for the Prairies and started at the now familiar Frank Lake and started at the hide.  Black-necked Grebes are now feeding quite big young and are the main attraction from the hide.  Moving outside there is a constant movement of American White Pelicans and White-faced Ibises going to feed.

American White Pelican
White-faced Ibis
There seemed to be quite a bit of evidence of wader migration with a flock of 25 Short-billed Dowitchers and a few Lesser Yellowlegs.

Short-billed Dowitchers
 After this stop we decided to drive on east for an hour to Macgregor Lake.  This is an enormous stretch of water in the middle of miles of fairly flat agricultural fields.  You only need to bird one small area where there is a shallow lagoon behind the dam and also the car park/picnic area.  We checked the lagoon first which was full of waders.  The most numerous were 40  Lesser Yellowlegs followed by about 20 Stilt Sandpipers then 7 Marbled Godwits, 5 Willet, Greater Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, 3 Black-necked Stilts and 8 Wilson's Phalaropes.

Lesser Yellowlegs
Also around the lagoon we found a pair of Grey Partridges with young, 2 Western Meadowlarks and hordes of Red-winged and yellow-headed Blackbirds.  From the dam there were a pair of Western Grebes and young.  We then took our lunch to the car park.  There were plenty of birds here too.  A gang of ring-billed Gulls watched us hoping for a snack and a splendid Loggerhead Shrike perched on posts around us.  Flocks of Black Terns flew backward and forwards to their nesting areas and a pair of Western Kingbirds were catching flies from the nearby fence.

Loggerhead Shrike
Western Kingbird
After lunch and a break we began the drive back.  generally the drive is pretty boring being 60 kilometres of dead straight road.  We did have a bit of excitement though and considerable luck.  I spotted a peculiar shaped bird on overhead wires.  It seemed to have long legs so we turned round and went back.  What a  surprise as the bird was an Upland Sandpiper.  I had never seen a wader sitting on wires before but my son tells me he often sees this species doing this near Fort St.John in the north.  As we turned again we found another Upland Sandpiper this time posing more normally on a post.

Upland Sandpiper on overhead wires
Upland Sandpiper
Eventually we returned to another part of Frank Lake.  It was now very hot and we did a quick survey of some pools where we found a Least Sandpiper with the resident Wilson's Phalaropes and Willets.

After all that it was off to a local farm to buy a Saskatoon Pie for supper and home.

1 comment:

  1. Well along with the pleasure of visiting family, your visit to Canada seems to have been quite wonderful! Enjoyed learning about birds in the west of my country! Thanks.