Archives for 2017

Aug
21
Voices from the Field August 21

Hello from the field!      

With our summer with Nature Saskatchewan coming to an end we had the opportunity to travel to a few more special places! We ended July by going down to the Big Muddy Badlands and area! Whoever says Saskatchewan is boring must have missed this part of the province!

Along with the views came many Loggerhead Shrike sightings, as well as the melodic, descending calls of Sprague’s Pipits. Talking with land owners in this area showed an interesting change in species with more mentions of Turkey Vultures, Common Ravens, Eastern Yellow-bellied Racers, Piping Plovers, Common Nighthawks, and many others. We were very happy to visit very friendly people in the midst of one of Saskatchewan’s wonders!

August also sent us back to beautiful Gull Lake and Val Marie areas to finish up our last landowner visits for the summer. We chatted with long time participants and enjoyed hearing of many recent species at risk sightings! Driving so near to Grasslands National Park and across Highway 18 was a treat as Val Marie sunsets never disappoint. Being surrounded by rolling hills and native prairie pasture you can’t help but appreciate the landscape. We were quite excited to still find a few Loggerhead Shrike families before they migrated for the winter and we even spotted a few Ferruginous Hawks hunting. Finding species at risk still gets our hearts beating!

One last trip each to southeast and southwest Saskatchewan was an adventure as we parted ways to help search and monitor for plant species at risk! This was new for us, but we were excited to learn more about plants (of course we always had our binoculars at the ready to spot birds!). Tiffany monitored for Buffalograss, while Jenna searched for Smooth Goosefoot. We had a lot of fun walking through pastures and sand dunes as we learned the ways of the plant crew! While monitoring for Buffalograss, the most thrilling part was a pasture filled with large mats of this beautiful golden plant and seeing a Great Blue Heron fly overhead. It was really interesting to learn that Buffalograss is only found in the Estevan area and that it was downlisted this year from Threatened to Special Concern, meaning that it is considered to be less at risk now than it was before! This is a great example of how monitoring efforts are so important for species at risk.

 

Buffalo Grass patch

Jenna was excited to find the provincially rare Beaked Annual Skeletonweed while searching as well as finding almost 4000 Smooth Goosefoot plants! We learned that Smooth Goosefoot is a threatened species with a pretty specific habitat, thriving in eroded sandy soils at the edges of dunes!

Sadly, the summer is coming to a close and we would like to thank everyone and everything that made our summer so enjoyable. We both learned so much and appreciate the time and effort that landowners, members, and coworkers put into the conservation of Saskatchewan’s native environment. It wouldn’t be home without our native grasses, plants, birds, and animals. We couldn’t have had a better summer!

 

Your 2017 Habitat Stewardship Assistants,

Tiffany Blampied & Jenna Van Parys

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