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Farewell from the RPR Field Crew

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Hello once again fellow nature enthusiasts! Hard to believe our last trip for the summer has come and gone, but before we say goodbye we are back to share some of our final adventures from the field!

Our third last trip took us to the sandy soils of Southwest Saskatchewan on the search for Smooth Goosefoot. This plant is threatened and is unique in that its small green sphere-shaped flowers grow in dense clusters. Aside from growing in eroded sandy soils, you can find it at the edges of dunes. Our search was quite successful as we came across many occurrences of Smooth Goosefoot including the tallest and widest one we have seen all summer! This trip turned out be an exciting one in terms of reptile sightings too as we had some of the coolest interactions with snakes! As we were trekking through the sandy soils I spotted something slowly moving between the vegetation out of the corner of my eye. As I looked closer I realized it was snake and shouted with joy to Levi! It was the first time either of us had ever seen a bullsnake! Just when we thought it couldn’t get better, the bull snake stopped, dug its head into the sand, and then continued to burrow as we watched the rest of its body disappear in front of us. We also were lucky enough to see two hog-nosed snakes. Later that trip we were treated to one of nature’s finest stormy skies as an orange and pink filled sunset sky was overlaid with blueish-grey clouds with flashes of lightning.


Smooth Goosefoot (top left), the stormy sky (top right), a defensive hog-nosed snake (bottom left), bull snake burrowing (bottom right) 



Next we ventured into the hills on the hunt for a threatened plant known as Tiny Cryptantha. This plant is a member of the Borage family. Its hairy or bristly appearing leaves are a key feature in identification. Even though after three days of searching we did not find the target species, we took in the spectacular views of the rising sun spreading a gorgeous golden glow over the rolling hills and a great amount of wildlife including deer, golden eagles, coyotes, turkey vultures, and cute rabbits. A couple of days in, we switched gears from our usual searching routine into a visit trip. This gave us the opportunity to say hi to several landowners and exchange stories of nature and plants which is always great! We were even taken on some tours around their lands to see the wildlife in their yard, and of course we got to stop and say hi to several friendly and cuddly farm dogs! One of the highlights during these visits was getting to watch both male and female hummingbirds feed. We also got to see the entertaining sight of watching ducks munch down on grasshoppers which I had no idea was even part of their diet! The drives between locations were quite pleasant as it seemed to be a week full of baby animals. We saw an abundance of pronghorn accompanied with babies (super scrawny and cute by the way!), fawns, a mama coyote carrying her pup, and two fox pups. What would a summer be without getting lost on back roads?! On our way back from a visit we missed our turn off and ended up on an unfamiliar road which led to one of our most exciting scenes of the summer: four loggerhead shrike chicks (the predatory songbird that is the target species of our Shrubs for Shrikes program) all in a line on the thorny branches of buffaloberry! During our explorations we stopped in at the Great Sandhills, the Standing Rock, and the T-rex Discovery center.



Loggerhead shrike chicks Photo credit: Natanis Kuster



Some of the beautiful sunrises we saw throughout our last few trips. 



A pronghorn we came face to face with (left), Myself and Levi during our explorations at the Great Sandhills (right).


Our final journey took us in a different direction as we headed out southeast near Estevan with hopes of seeing Buffalograss. Its preferred habitat is dry, shallow coulee bottoms and clay soil slopes. This grass is very interesting as the male and female grasses appear different. The males are easily identified by orange coloured anthers and can grow up to 12 cm tall while female flowers appear shorter and often entangled amongst the short curly grass with the seeds encased in a burr. A good time to see Buffalograss is in August as patches will appear golden separating it from the surrounding grass. This monitoring trip was a huge success, and we found most populations to still be alive and thriving! It also had Levi very happy as the fields were filled with fescue which is his favourite. We experienced a bit of an eerie feeling on our last day there as ten turkey vultures were circling in the sky in close proximity to us. It was neat to see so many at one time!



Male Buffalograss with anthers (left), female Buffalograss (middle) photo credit: Levi Boutin, photographic evidence of Levi as happy as can be in Fescue (right). 


On our final drive back to the city with thunder and lightning rolling in all round us, we recalled all our favourite moments from the summer: stumbling upon a moose skull, finding pincushion cactus flowers after months of searching and anticipation, making friends with owls, staying in hotels with bats, and so much more! It has been a summer filled with laughter, learning, beautiful native plants, various wildlife experiences, and many country music sing alongs. It truly has been one for the books! And with that we say farewell and hope everyone has a great rest of their summer and gets a chance to head out to experience their own wild Saskatchewan adventures!




Dotted blazing star (top left), Pincushion cactus flower (top middle), Prairie lily (top right), Gaillardia (middle left), Prairie coneflower (middle right), the moose skull we found (bottom left), Ferruginous hawk (bottom right). Photo credit: Natanis Kuster




Take care everyone!

Natanis  – Rare Plant Rescue Searching Crew member

2019 Fall Meet

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Join us in Greenwater Provincial Park (September 13-15)

Friday September 13th

6:30pm- Registration and refreshments at Greenwater Recreation Hall

7:30pm- Introductions and greetings from the park followed by :

Larry Morgotch Photo Presentation (Bring your memory cards/usbs with your nature photos to share)

8:15pm -Explanation of details and logistics of Saturday’s tours


Saturday September 14th

*Breakfast provided at the Recreation hall at 7:00 am*

8:00am—Board bus - departure for Marean Lake for hiking/birding

11:30am—boarding bus for departure for lunch break

1:00pm — Board bus for departure to Van Brienan Nature Sanctuary

3:15pm — Return to Greenwater Provincial Park

4:30pm—Business meeting at Recreation hall



7:30pm — Awards

8:00pm — “Prairie Resilience” – Saskatchewan’s Climate Change Strategy

Presented by Ministry of Environment, Climate Change Branch


Sunday September 15th

Breakfast on your own – available at café at own cost

Explore the park and area for the day



Please send in your registration form via mail to: 206-1860 Lorne St. Regina, SK  S4P 2L7

or scan and email to:

If you prefer to call in your registration please call 306-780-9273 or 1-800-667-4668

2019 Fall Meet Registration Form

See you there!

A Tasty Way to Help Conserve Species-at-Risk

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Regina, SK – August 5, 2019 – The prairie region, as well as its biological diversity, is one of the most endangered landscapes in the world. Now, thanks to Sentinel Bottleworks, there is a new way to help conserve species at risk in Saskatchewan. The Rosthern based alcohol producer has recently released a series of locally made ciders that highlight species at risk in the province. “It's sort of like the old hinterland who's who, but for adults”, explains the cider makers owner Keith Jorgenson. “Each variety that we make has both the image of a Saskatchewan species-at-risk and a bit of information about the species. We hope to raise the profile of these species, why they are in trouble, and raise money for people fighting to save them.”


Prairie Sentinel has pledged to donate $1 for each litre sold. It will be used to support Species at Risk programs run by Nature Saskatchewan. In June, the cidery raised $1,000 for Nature Saskatchewan; they hope to raise over $20,000 a year. 


Nature Saskatchewan offers a suite of five voluntary stewardship programs that engage rural landowners and land managers in conserving habitat in southern Saskatchewan to benefit species at risk, ecosystem health, and people. The programs use flagship (rare) species to promote awareness of our disappearing prairie and parkland landscapes and their biological diversity. “It is an indescribable feeling when an unsolicited business is willing to step forward to support programs that are designed to conserve our precious grassland landscape and the species that inhabit them. We can’t thank Keith enough for his foresight and generosity and hope to continue our partnership well into the future” says Jordan Ignatiuk, Executive Director for Nature Saskatchewan.


“Drinking and the environment don't seem to go together, but people want to know that what they make and what they buy is part of the solution and not part of the problem”, says Jorgenson.”  “I am a farmer; I see what we have lost, and hope that we can save what is left. We have lost 87% of our original prairies. Imagine losing 87% of your house, that's what Saskatchewan endangered species are living with.”


You can find the new ciders on tap in Saskatoon at:

  • Yard and Flagon
  • High Key
  • Rook and Raven
  • Cork and Kettle
  • Winstons
  • Shelter
  • Louis’

And for purchase at:

  • Sobeys Stonebridge
  • Sobeys Preston Crossing
  • Sobeys Yorkton
  • Sobeys Humbolt
  • Sobeys Emerald Park
  • Sobeys Rochdale
  • Sobeys Southland
  • Metro Saskatoon
  • Metro Regina
  • Willow Park Regina
  • SLGA University Heights
  • SLGA Confederation Park
  • SLGA Idylwyld
  • SLGA Avalon
  • SLGA 8th Street
  • SLGA Quance
  • SLGA Broadway
  • Red’s Liquor Store
  • Sperling Silver


For further information, please contact:


Jordan Ignatiuk, Nature Saskatchewan Executive Director
306-780-9293 or

Keith Jorgenson, Sentinel Bottleworks
306-491-4848 or


Photo credit: B. Quist


Keep your eyes peeled for those bright yellow Burrowing Owl eyes!

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Regina, SK – July 29, 2019 – It’s that time of year again, young Burrowing Owls have begun to leave their nests! For the past several weeks, juvenile owls have been carefully tended to and fed by their parents. Now they are independent and ready to learn how to fly and hunt for themselves. Late July and August is a great time of year to spot the owls out and about or perched on fence posts, but it is also a dangerous time for the juveniles.


At this point in their lifecycle, the Burrowing Owls are a bit like teenagers - they are keen to be independent but lack experience. The juveniles tend to forage for food on the road and in the ditch. Kaytlyn Burrows, a Nature Saskatchewan Habitat Stewardship Coordinator, suggests this is because “at dusk the road surface tends to be warmer than surrounding grasslands, attracting many small insects and rodents and as a result, young owls are also attracted and they begin searching for prey.” For this reason, the juveniles are at a greater risk of collision with vehicles. Motorists can prevent collisions by reducing their speed and keeping an eye out for Burrowing Owls on or near the road.


Burrowing Owls can be identified by their mottled brown and white feathers, their stilt-like legs, and of course their bright yellow eyes. The birds are about the size of a robin with a height of about 9 inches, but they have large wings compared to the rest of their small body. They are commonly found in native or tame grasslands and will use the burrows of badgers, ground squirrels, and other burrowing mammals for nesting.


Launched in 1987, Operation Burrowing Owl is one of Canada’s longest running conservation programs and aims to conserve the remaining parcels of land used by Burrowing Owls in Saskatchewan. Through voluntary landowner agreements, the program also monitors the population of this endangered species. If you have Burrowing Owls on your land or just happen to see one, please call 1-800-667-HOOT (4668). The program coordinator, Kaytlyn Burrows, says, “you will be helping to monitor the population and aid with conservation efforts.” Personal information is never shared without permission.


For further information, please contact Nature Saskatchewan:


Kaytlyn Burrows, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator
(306) 780-9833


Melissa Ranalli, Species at Risk Manager
(306) 780-9270


Photo credit: James Villeneuve

Voices from the field - Check in with the Bird Species at Risk staff

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This is your Habitat Stewardship Assistant Grace writing to update all of you with the highlights of our most recent Bird Species at Risk trip. My co-worker Josh and I have just returned from nine days of driving the grid roads of Southwest Saskatchewan in search of the Loggerhead Shrike – aka the butcher bird! We are pleased to share with you some very exciting sightings and stories!

We began our journey the second week of July and headed out towards Lake Diefenbaker. With our main goal being to find as many Loggerhead Shrikes as possible, we slowly and carefully began our route. Our first few days, we only recorded a few sightings but things quickly turned in our favour. Following the grid roads, we had the opportunity to see so much of our beautiful province and fortunately, we came across a number of Loggerhead Shrikes as well! At this time of year, the chicks have already begun to leave the nest, and are learning to fly and hunt. The picture below on the left is an immature shrike which can be identified as such by its fluffy, “messier” plumage on its belly and also its shorter tail feathers. The adult shrikes have much smoother feathers on their bellies and longer tail feathers – as can be seen in the picture on the right. The young are also more likely to stay still for photos because they are inexperienced and have not yet learned to be more cautious around visitors.



Left: an immature Loggerhead Shrike. Right: an adult Loggerhead Shrike. Photos: Josh Christiansen




A Loggerhead Shrike perched on the fence watching a Swainson’s Hawk before dive-bombing it. Photo: Josh Christiansen



For the first few nights of our trip, we camped in Douglas Provincial Park. In the evenings, we enjoyed exploring the wilderness and found a number of outdoor activities to occupy our time. Our first night, we completed about 10 km of the TransCanada loop by bike. The trail passed through dense forest and open grassland where we saw many Western wood lilies, Saskatchewan’s Provincial flower, blooming along the way. After the ride, we went for a quick swim in the cool water of Lake Diefenbaker and took in the beautiful beach views. Another evening we decided to hike into the park’s sand dunes located just minutes from the campground. The sand dunes continued as far as the eye could see and seemed to stretch endlessly. It was hard to believe that such diverse ecosystems could exist in such close proximity. During our hike in the sand dunes, we came across a dead ten-lined June beetle over 4 cm long, a beautiful goldfinch, and a deer.



Left: Western wood lily growing along the TransCanada bike loop. Right: Josh and Grace hiking in the Douglas Provincial Park sand dunes. Photos: Josh Christiansen



Left: Ants eating a dead ten-lined June beetle. Right: Goldfinch perched on branch. Photos: Josh Christiansen



Josh enjoying  the sand dunes. Photo: Grace Schaan       Grace on top of a dune. Photo: Josh Christiansen


Although our main target for the grid road search was the Loggerhead Shrike, we also spotted a number of other bird species at risk. We came across four Ferruginous Hawks as well as several Bobolinks! Pictured below are a few of the Great Horned Owls that we discovered along the way. While they are not a species at risk, they certainly are a sight to see!


Left and right: perched Great Horned Owls. Photos: Josh Christiansen


We ended our trip with Nature Saskatchewan’s Conservation Awareness Dinner in Val Marie. We gave a joint presentation with our Rare Plant Rescue colleague, which was followed by a presentation on Loggerhead Shrikes from Shirley Bartz, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator. It was a fantastic evening of informative presentations, delicious food, and great conversation with local landowners and producers.

With only a few weeks of summer remaining, we are keen to get back on the road soon to meet with more landowners and discover even more species at risk. Until next time!

Grace Schaan, Habitat Stewardship Assistant


An immature Loggerhead Shrike perched on the fence wire. Photo: Josh Christiansen





Piping Plovers Stretch Their Wings

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Regina, SK – July 24, 2019 – It may still feel like summer to us, but Piping Plovers have already begun to prepare for the winter. “Piping Plovers are small migratory shorebirds that nest on sandy or gravely beaches in Saskatchewan during the summer, and spend the winter on the coastal beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Islands such as Cuba,” says Shirley Bartz, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator with Nature Saskatchewan. “Piping Plovers will begin this southerly journey in early August after the young have spent the month of July growing quickly and practicing their flying skills in preparation for migration,” says Shirley.


The Piping Plover is an endangered species, which means that it is at risk of becoming extirpated in Canada. A total of 799 individual Piping Plovers were counted in Saskatchewan during the International Piping Plover Breeding Census in 2016. Although this number is a slight increase from the 778 plovers counted in 2011, it is still far below the 1,435 plovers counted in Saskatchewan during the 2006 census. This little shorebird still needs our help!


Piping Plovers face numerous threats, including predation of chicks and eggs, human recreational disturbance, and livestock traffic on shorelines, which can cause deep hoof-prints that may potentially trap chicks, and trampling of nests. Water management in reservoirs and lakes can also endanger plovers. If water levels rise, nests can be flooded at the shoreline or adults and juvenile Piping Plovers can be forced up the beach into habitat without the moist sandy soil that supports their invertebrate prey.


Identifying Piping Plovers can be easy if you know what to look for. Piping Plovers have a single black neckband, whereas a similar species, called a Killdeer, has two black neckbands. Piping Plovers are also smaller than Killdeer, and have orange legs rather than the dark yellow legs of a Killdeer. Plovers have a lighter grey back than the Killdeer’s brown back, and the Piping Plover’s breast is white. Another distinguishing feature of the Piping Plover is the black tip on its orange bill.


Nature Saskatchewan has a voluntary land stewardship program for landowners with Piping Plovers on their land. This program, “Plovers on Shore”, involves a voluntary “handshake” agreement where the landowner agrees to conserve shoreline habitat for these endangered birds. To learn more about the Piping Plover, or if you have Piping Plovers on your shoreline and would be interested in a face-to-face visit and discussion with the Plovers on Shore Coordinator, please contact Nature Saskatchewan at 1-800-667-4668 or (306) 780-9832.


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For further information, please contact Nature Saskatchewan:


Shirley Bartz,   Habitat Stewardship Coordinator   
(306) 780-9832


Melissa Ranalli, Species at Risk Manager
(306) 780-9270

Photo credit: Arnold Janz

An Important Bird Area walk around Old Wives Lake

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For five years now, the Important Bird Areas Caretaker program (IBA) Assistant leads a bird walk around Old Wives Lake IBA organized by the Old Wives Watershed Association. I have personally led the bird walk for three years now, and the trip is a highlight for me.

The area boasts plentiful pastures, a vast lake with islands, and shoreline. All of this adds up to a fantastic day of birding, not to mention a fantastic checklist. We usually see a wide variety of species, and this year’s bird walk was no exception! 



It was a beautiful morning as we set out from Mossback towards Old Wives Lake. We heard a few different prairie species as we drove in nearby pastures. I was very excited to hear Sprague’s Pipit and Baird’s Sparrow singing! These prairie birds become less and less common as more of our native prairie disappears. We also saw Vesper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Swainson’s Hawk, and a few Eastern and Western Kingbirds.



As we got closer to the lake, Upland Sandpipers and Marbled Godwits let out alarm calls. A Killdeer ran off the road and tried to distract us with a broken-wing display. Horned Larks flew ahead of our vehicles and landed back onto the road, unbothered by our presence. We turned toward the lake to count water birds. The IBA was originally designated in part because of the large amount of ducks that go there after breeding. There were tons of Canvasbacks and Eared Grebes on the lake. A few of the grebes had young with them. We had the privilege to watch the young get onto their parent’s back! A couple of small sloughs by the road harbored a Sora, a Wilson’s Phalarope, plus lots of Red-winged and Yellow-headed Blackbirds. Out in the pasture, we could hear Chestnut-collared Longspurs singing.



As we continued driving along the lake we saw Franklin’s Gulls flying over, lots of other ducks loafing around, and a couple Forester’s Terns catching fish. It had rained in the area and the roads were a little mucky. So we had to change our regular route, and headed outside of the IBA boundary.


We stopped for lunch at the side of the road. We were beside an abandoned farm yard, where we saw a Great Horned Owl watching us from one of the sheds. We have previously seen fledglings in the shed in other years, so they might be nesting there again! We came across a couple more sloughs along our route with lots of water birds. A couple highlights were Green-winged Teals, and American Avocet, and a White-faced Ibis! We traveled to the hamlet of Courval and made one final stop at the bridge just north of town. We saw a few Cliff Swallows, a Black-crowned Night Heron, and a Rub-throated Hummingbird zoomed past us! Normally we would go around the north end of the lake and try to look at the islands on the lake. But because of the roads, we called it quits a little earlier.



All in all, it was a successful day. We saw over 50 species of bird from start to finish with a few uncommon species in the mix. I can’t wait until next year, when we’ll get to do this all over again!

Butcherbird Babies are Hatching Now!

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Regina, SK – July 8, 2019 – Be on the lookout for Loggerhead Shrikes (a.k.a Butcherbirds) perched on fence posts, barbed wire, or dead branches in shrub patches and shelterbelts.


These migratory songbirds are a threatened species and Saskatchewan is an important part of their breeding range. They return to the Canadian prairies each spring from their wintering grounds in southern Texas and Mexico; and right now, their chicks are hatching!


“Now is the best time to see the adult Loggerhead Shrikes because they are constantly on the search for food, to feed their ravenous chicks who are in the nest growing feathers and muscle in preparation for flight”, explains Shirley Bartz, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator with Nature Saskatchewan. “Their hunting strategies include perching high on a twig, hovering above a field and diving onto prey, or walking on the ground while flashing their white wing patches to startle prey into movement”.


The shrikes provide natural pest control as their diet consists largely of grasshoppers and other insects. They also eat mice, voles, frogs, small birds, and even snakes! Shrikes will sometimes take prey larger than they are. However, with their little songbird feet, they are unable to grip their prey and tear pieces off like a hawk would. To get around this, shrikes impale their prey on thorns or barbed-wire, and then use their hooked beak to tear off edible bits. “This is how they got the name Butcherbird,” says Shirley, “because they hang their meat like your neighbourhood butcher.”


Loggerhead Shrikes are slightly smaller than a robin, with a white breast and belly, a grey back, and contrasting white markings on their black wings and tail. They also have a distinctive black eye “mask” and a black hooked beak. Loggerhead shrikes have a song composed of short bubbling trills, as well as a variety of rasps and clacks. When alarmed Shrikes give a distinctive high pitch shriek.


Nature Saskatchewan delivers a voluntary stewardship program called Shrubs for Shrikes that works with rural landowners to conserve this species at risk. They are asking anyone who sees a Loggerhead Shrike, or impaled prey, to call their toll free line at 1-800-667-4668 to help them monitor the population. “Personal information is never shared without permission”, adds Shirley.

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For further information, please contact Nature Saskatchewan:


Shirley Bartz, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator      
(306) 780-9832


Melissa Ranalli, Species at Risk Manager
(306) 780-9270

Photo credit: Randy McCulloch

Check in with Rare Plant Rescue

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Hello everyone! Rare Plant Rescue checking in again to share more stories from the field.

At the end of June we headed out to search for the endangered Small-flowered Sand-verbena. Luckily for us, this meant we had the opportunity to visit some sandy riverside slopes where this plant is known to thrive. To start off the trip, we headed out to some previously documented populations to collect data on any changes since our last visit five years ago. We headed down the beach full of anticipation and were not disappointed. Within minutes we reached our first site and saw it was full of flowering plants! We were very excited to have such a promising start, and as we continued down the shoreline we found that the second patch we had come to monitor had grown substantially! We walked back and forth along the shoreline flagging plants when all of the sudden the wind picked up and the sky got dark. With a sudden sense of urgency, we scanned the shoreline for any remaining plants and counted them quickly. We hurried back to our vehicle and made it back just in time to miss the massive thunder storm that delivered 50mm of rain (and hail) to the area in just a couple hours!


left Small-flowered Sand-verbena (Tripterocalyx micranthus), right Thunderstorm moving into our search area. Photo credit: Emily Putz


As the week continued, so did the much needed rain. With careful planning to avoid the afternoon showers, we quickly finished our monitoring work and continued down the beach to look for new occurrences. As we worked our way down miles of shoreline, we discovered that some areas were muddy rather than sandy and we began hauling giant mud plates on our shoes as we walked! Although searching this new habitat was difficult at times, it was also very rewarding. We ended up finding a single Small-flowered Sand-verbena growing in a small patch of sand in an otherwise muddy stretch of shoreline. This single plant was healthy and producing tons of seeds, which gives us hope that there will be many more plants the next time we come monitor the area. We also found a variety of rare shoreline birds. First we saw the endangered Piping Plover, which was particularly exciting for me as I’ve never had the opportunity to see one before. Then we saw a few Long-Billed Curlews (listed as special concern) who persistently lured us and a neighboring coyote away from their nests.

For our next trip we welcomed back the sand and headed out to monitor populations of Western Spiderwort. This threatened plant grows in partially stabilized sand dunes in southern Saskatchewan and when it is not flowering, looks very similar to many grasses. Fortunately, we knew the easiest way to spot Western Spiderwort was by its bright purple flowers which only open from sunrise until mid-morning. So we set our alarms for 4:00am and headed out at sunrise to find this beautiful flowering monocot. Our first day out did not go as we expected. We headed out to the last recorded location of the plants from ten years prior and found that since then, the road side ditch had completely filled with grasses. We scanned the area for purple and didn’t see anything but grass. Still determined to give it our best shot, we walked along the ditch keeping our eyes peeled for our target plant. It didn’t take long before Emily shouted out that she had found one and I hurried over and saw a young spiderwort just starting to produce flower buds. It was very cool to see how resilient these plants were and that they were able to adapt to their changing habitat over the years. Once we saw the first Spiderwort, it was a little easier to spot them among the grasses and we walked (and crouched) slowly through the ditch playing a game I like to call “spot the spiderwort”.


Image 1: Can you spot the Western Spiderwort? 




Western Spiderwort beginning to produce flower buds (left), Mourning Dove singing at sunrise (centre) and one of many deer grazing at dawn (right)



The next day we headed out to a new area which we hoped would have less grass and more blooming Spiderwort. We hiked for an hour and finally reached a sandy hilltop that was filled with beautiful flowering cactus, not so beautiful poison ivy, and more Western Spiderwort. Once again, all the plants we encountered were producing buds but had not started flowering. With only one day left in our trip, we were excited to have found so many healthy populations, but were determined to see a spiderwort flowering. We searched the hillsides and flagged dozens of plants when all the sudden I spotted a single purple flower out of the corner of my eye! With a shout, I hurried over with my camera and documented the first blooming Spiderwort I had ever seen.



Prickly Pear Cactus and Western Spiderwort with a single bloom. Photo credits: Michelle Lang



Little did we know that this single purple flower was only the beginning! The next day we went to our final monitoring location; a series of large partially stabilized dunes with perfect habitat. As we approached the first dune we saw the whole area was filled with beautiful flowering Spiderworts! As we went from plant to plant snapping photos we noticed the wide range of shades the flowers were. Most of the flowers varied from light to dark purple but we also found one plant with bright pink flowers which was very cool to see! We were also lucky enough to see a Gibson's Big Sand Tiger Beetle as we crouched among the plants. We spent the day counting Spiderwort that stretched as far as the eye could see. It was an amazing experience and we couldn’t have asked for a better end to such an amazing trip!


Sand dunes on route to our monitoring site and Western Spiderwort




Western Spiderwort. Photo by Michelle Lang 



Until next time,

Michelle Lang – Rare Plant Rescue Habitat Assistant



Sun coming up through the fog. Photo credit: Michelle Lang


Call for Award Nominations

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Each year at the Fall Meet, Nature Saskatchewan recognizes outstanding service and contributions that Society members, and/or affiliate and partner organizations have made towards Nature Saskatchewan’s objectives and goals. Recently, the Awards Committee has recommended that the awards be restructured slightly.

Clear criteria have been established in terms of purpose, eligibility, and nomination procedure. This year, we are seeking nominations for three classes of awards – Volunteer Recognition Award, Fellows Award, and Conservation Award. The Volunteer Recognition Award and Conservation Award can be conferred on the same individual or organization more than once.

The Cliff Shaw Award will also be presented at the Fall Meet. The recipient is chosen by the Blue Jay editors.

Local societies throughout Saskatchewan play an important role in furthering conservation and appreciation of nature at the local level. There are always those who step up to the plate to organize meetings and outings, go the extra mile to help others connect with nature, or work silently and tirelessly behind the scenes. It’s time those contributions were recognized. We encourage anyone from a local society to consider nominating someone from your local group who is a Nature Saskatchewan member, who deserves recognition for any of these awards. Note that nominees for the Volunteer Recognition Award and Fellows Award must hold a current membership with Nature Saskatchewan.

In the interests of space, we are including the Nomination Procedure only for the first award, since the procedure is the same for all three awards. The criteria and names of past recipients can be found on the website at  The office can also send you a copy by mail, if you prefer.

Nomination Procedure

  • Nominations can be made by Nature Saskatchewan members, directors, and staff. Local societies should consider nominating someone from their local group.
  • Self-nominations will not be accepted.
  • Nominations are to be made in writing and submitted by the published deadline.
  • Nominations are to include the following information: The nominee’s name, address, and phone number; The nominator’s name and contact information; Details of the nominee’s efforts.
  • The Awards Committee will independently rate the nominations, and confirm that the nominee holds a current membership with Nature Saskatchewan.
  • Chairperson of the Awards Committee will bring the recommendations to the Board.
  • If ratified, the President or his/her delegate shall confer the respective Awards to the recipients at the Fall Meet.


The deadline to submit nominations for awards is August 23, 2019.


All Nature Saskatchewan Awards consist of the following:

  • The announcement of the recipient’s name at the Fall Meet.
  • The presentation of a certificate recognizing the contribution.
  • An announcement in Blue Jay recognizing the distinction.


Volunteer Recognition Award

This award was created in 1996 to acknowledge an individual Nature Saskatchewan member who has devoted significant time and energy to promoting the objectives of the Society, including contributions made at the local society level. Priority for this award will be given to a Nature Saskatchewan member whose volunteer work has helped to enhance the public awareness of the Society (this may include contributions to a Society conservation project or program). It may be appropriate in some years to have this award shared by more than one person, if they have worked together on the same project, or on closely related projects.


Nature Saskatchewan members who have provided valuable time and effort in contributing to the Society are eligible. Local societies are encouraged to nominate someone from their local group who is a Nature Saskatchewan member, recognizing that Nature Saskatchewan values their contributions to the overall goals of the Society. The nominee must be a current member of Nature Saskatchewan. This award can be conferred on the same person more than once.

Fellows Award

Purpose of the Award

A motion was passed at the 1987 Annual General Meeting creating a new class of honorary membership entitled “Fellows of the Saskatchewan Natural History Society”. This award recognizes an extensive and continuing contribution of time over many years to the Society and its objectives. Up to five recipients may be chosen annually. Once selected, Fellows hold that title as long as they remain members of the Society. It is the highest honour the Society can bestow upon a member.


Eligible individuals are members of Nature Saskatchewan who have provided an outstanding time and work contribution to the Society over many years. These contributions have been significant, and may have come in the form of leadership, communication, authorship, social media outreach, research, and other areas. The contributions have been cumulative or ongoing, and represent long-standing service or commitment to Nature Saskatchewan and its objectives.

Conservation Award

Purpose of the Award

In addition to advocacy and other forms of conservation action, it is important that Nature Saskatchewan recognize, as it has done since 1953, those both within and beyond the organization who have done “meritorious work in the interest of conservation in Saskatchewan.”

Nature Saskatchewan’s Conservation Award will be presented to an individual or organization whose total contribution to conservation is outstanding, whether in relation to a particular project or in a number of roles over a period of years.


Individuals, affiliate and/or partner organizations, not-for-profit associations, institutions, community groups, businesses, government and non-government organizations that have contributed significantly to conservation in Saskatchewan.

This award can be conferred on the same individual or organization more than once.



Larry Morgotch Images of Nature Event: Any member may show up to 10 images that illustrate natural history interests and activities, and may speak briefly about them (no longer than two minutes, please). Images labelled with your name should be left with the projectionist before the start of the program. Digital images may be individual files, assembled as a Power Point or similar type of presentation, or an executable file if you are using a slideshow editing program. Please be sure your presentation runs on a standard PC. Individual images must be in jpeg format with the longest dimension of no more than 1500 pixels. Name your images so that they display in the correct order. Digital images should be stored in a folder indicating your name and saved on a USB flash drive. Please be sure that your presentation runs on a standard PC.

We’ll have a computer and digital projector already set up.

Here’s a chance to showcase some of your favourite images of nature without pressure of competition.