Archives for 2021

Feb
1
Nature Saskatchewan has summer job opportunities available

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Nature Saskatchewan has the following job opportunities. All positions are based in Regina, involve extensive travel in southern Saskatchewan, and start in early May, 2021. General qualifications include a strong interest in conservation and environmental education, and studies in the fields of biology, ecology, geography, agriculture, or other related studies. Applicants should have strong communication, computer, and organizational skills; be self-motivated with the ability to work independently as well as part of a team; hold a valid driver’s license (vehicle will be provided); and be willing to travel and work flexible hours, including outdoors. Applicants should also be able to hike to field sites carrying field equipment. First Aid and CPR certification is an asset.

Applications for all postings must be sent via email and will be accepted until 11:59 pm on March 1st, 2021. We thank all applicants for their interest, however, only those selected for an interview will be contacted.

Due to COVID-19, the following positions will follow all Saskatchewan Public Health Authority guidelines, thus, schedules and protocols will be subject to change on short notice throughout the position terms.

 


 

  1. Habitat Stewardship Summer Assistant

 

Positions: Two full-time summer positions for 16-18 weeks @ $18/hour. Summer assistants will assist in the delivery of our Operation Burrowing Owl, Shrubs for Shrikes, Plovers on Shore and Stewards of Saskatchewan banner programs.  These programs promote conservation of habitat for prairie species at risk.

 

Tasks and responsibilities: Assist program coordinators with program delivery; prepare communications and educational materials for distribution; assist in searches, monitoring and other conservation activities; contact and communicate with rural landowners regarding target species; educate targeted public audiences about species at risk on the prairies; and help deliver workshops and presentations to agricultural producers and the public (virtual and/or in-person).

 

Specific requirements and qualifications: Willingness to travel extensively, to camp, work evenings and weekends, and to adapt to schedule and protocol changes on short notice. Should also possess basic wildlife and plant identification skills, computer skills, communication skills, and familiarity with GPS, maps and rural Saskatchewan are assets.

 

Please email a cover letter and resume in one PDF file to Rebecca Magnus at outreach@naturesask.ca by  11:59 pm, March 1st, 2021. Include in the subject line “Summer Assistant Application” followed by your name.

 


 

  1. Rare Plant Rescue Habitat Stewardship Summer Assistant

 

Position: One full-time summer position for 16-18 weeks @ $18/hour. The summer assistant will assist in the delivery of our Rare Plant Rescue program.  This program promotes conservation of prairie plant species at risk.

 

Tasks and responsibilities: Assist program coordinators with program delivery; prepare communications and educational materials for distribution; assist in searches, monitoring and other conservation activities; contact and communicate with rural landowners regarding target species; educate targeted public audiences about species at risk on the prairies; and help deliver workshops and presentations to agricultural producers and the public (virtual and/or in-person).

 

Specific requirements and qualifications: Basic plant identification skills (training in rare plant identification will be provided); willing to work flexible hours outdoors including in inclement conditions; willing to adapt to changing schedules due to unexpected circumstances or adjustments based on field conditions; willing to travel extensively; to camp; work evenings and weekends; ability to hike to field sites carrying equipment; strong organizational skills; familiarity with GPS and maps is an asset.

 

Please email a cover letter and resume in one PDF file to Ashley Vass at rpr@naturesask.ca by 11:59 pm March 1st, 2021. Include in the subject line “Application: RPR Summer Assistant” followed by your name.

 


 

  1.  Rare Plant Rescue Search and Monitoring Staff

 

Position(s): Two full-time summer staff for 16-18 weeks @ $20/hr.  Search and monitoring staff will assist in the delivery of our Rare Plant Rescue program, which promotes the conservation of prairie plant species at risk. The staff will work together under the supervision and mentorship of the project leader. 

 

Tasks and responsibilities: Plan and conduct occupancy surveys and monitoring of prairie plant species at risk; contact and communicate with landowners regarding target species.

 

Specific requirements and  qualifications: Basic plant identification skills (training in rare plant identification will be provided); willing to work flexible hours outdoors including in inclement conditions; willing to adapt to changing schedules due to unexpected circumstances or adjustments based on field conditions; willing to travel extensively; to camp; work evenings and weekends; ability to hike to field sites carrying equipment; strong organizational skills; familiarity with GPS and maps is an asset.

 

Please email a resume and cover letter in one PDF file to Ashley Vass at rpr@naturesask.ca by 11:59 pm March 1st, 2021. Include in the subject line “Application: Rare Plant Search and Monitoring Staff” followed by your name.

 


 

For all positions, preference will be given to Canadian students or recent graduates whose studies include the fields of biology, ecology, geography, agriculture, or other related studies. All else being equal, preference will be given to those who self-identify in their cover letter as being part of an underrepresented group or as having additional barriers in the labour market, such as visible minorities, LGBTQ2 individuals, Indigenous individuals, women in STEM, or persons with disabilities.

Feb
8
Register for our upcoming virtual events! Door Prizes at each event!

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All About Burrowing Owls
February 25, 2021 (7pm)
 

Featuring presentations by:

  • Nature Saskatchewan
  • Calgary Zoo
  • Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC
  •  Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Centre - featuring a live Burrowing Owl!
  • Manitoba Burrowing Owl Recovery Program - featuring a live Burrowing Owl!

    Click here to register

 


 

Managing for Bird Species at Risk & Incentives Guide
March 11, 2021 7pm

 

Featuring presentations from:

  • Prairie Conservation Action Plan
  • Nature Saskatchewan
  • Birds Canada
  • Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Centre - featuring a live Burrowing Owl!

    Click here to register

 


 

Multi-Species Management & Conservation Awareness Workshop
March 18, 2021 7pm
 

Featuring presentations from:

  • Prairie Conservation Action Plan
  • Nature Saskatchewan
  • Canadian Forage and Grassland Association

    Click here to register

 

Feb
10
Nature Trivia Night

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Nature Saskatchewan is excited to be partnering once again with Mystery Mansion Regina for an online trivia night on March 4 at 7pm. We have all new questions and category themes. Rounds will focus on Species at Risk, Climate Change and Canadian Nature Facts, with some fun music and picture trivia thrown in. Registration is FREE but space is limited to 20 teams. Register your team today by going to: https://forms.gle/ZJhD4vSjbXSAX8Ej7

Apr
8
ANNOUNCING Nature Saskatchewan’s Latest Publication

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AVAILABLE NOW!

 

Offering a wealth of information and illustrated with beautiful photographs taken by backyard bird enthusiasts from across the Prairies, this new 112-page publication is the ideal resource for anyone, veteran or novice, who longs to attract and enjoy birds at home year-round. In addition to advice on how to attract birds with food, shelter and water, and how to handle challenges should they arise, it includes detailed accounts of the species most likely to visit Saskatchewan yards and their feeding preferences. Sidebars with fascinating tidbits and trivia add interest and insight into the remarkable lives of wild birds. Whether you live in town or country, this beautiful new book will help you bring the colour and music of birds into your yard.

For more information and for a peek inside click here.

 


 

You can purchase Backyard Birdfeeding: A Saskatchewan Guide from a number of retail locations across Saskatchewan in addition to directly purchasing from Nature Saskatchewan. Check back often for a current list of retailers:

Saskatoon

- McNally Robinson Booksellers
- Wild Birds Unlimited
- Turning the Tide Books
- Early’s Farm and Garden

Moose Jaw

- DDK Pets

Esterhazy

- Pharmasave

Regina

- Penny University Bookstore

Last Mountain Regional Park office

 

 

May
13
Notice of the Annual General Meeting

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Nature Saskatchewan will be holding the Annual General Meeting virtually again this year due to the ongoing pandemic. We invite you to join us on June 21, 2021 at 7pm via Zoom. 

If you are interested in attending, please register at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_9a92l22uQAmET47uZ1uXFQ. All registrants will be emailed the necessary documents prior to the meeting.

If you would like to receive the meeting documents but do not wish to attend the meeting, please feel free to contact ebouvier@naturesask.ca and they will be sent out to you when they become available.

May
19
Backyard Bird Feeding: A Saskatchewan Guide virtual launch event

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Backyard Bird Feeding: A Saskatchewan Guide will be formally launched with a virtual event on May 25 at 7PM. The authors will share some stories and videos and be available for all of your birding and bird feeding questions after the event. 

 

Pre-registration is required. Please register at: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_De4xfo7BSBOZtpKse41pIg

May
25
What a Hoot! Burrowing Owls Are Back!

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Regina, SK - May 25, 2021 – Burrowing Owls have returned to the prairies after a long migration from their wintering grounds in Texas and Mexico. Breeding season is currently underway for these endangered owls. The female burrowing owls are now incubating the eggs (average 6-12), while the males can often be seen standing next to the burrow or on nearby fence posts.

These unique owls can be identified by their small size (~9 inches tall) and light and dark brown mottled plumage with white spots. They have round heads with large yellow eyes and white ‘eyebrows’. Their long featherless legs give them the appearance of walking on stilts. Burrowing owls are one of the smallest owls in Canada and the only species of owl that lives underground. The Short-eared Owl is sometimes confused with the Burrowing Owl, as they nest on the ground. They can be distinguished from the Burrowing Owl by their larger size, feathered legs, streaked breast and dark eye patches.

Despite their name, Burrowing Owls do not dig their own burrows. Instead they rely on abandoned burrows from badgers, ground squirrels (gophers) and other burrowing mammals. Burrowing Owls coexist very well with cattle because the shorter grass on a grazed pasture allows them to sight predators more efficiently. They also use the manure to line their burrows to absorb moisture, regulate temperature, attract insects for food and hide their scent from predators.

If you find Burrowing Owls in your pasture, celebrate! Not only are you hosting an iconic prairie species, they provide many advantages including free pest control. According to Nature Saskatchewan’s Habitat Stewardship Coordinator, Kaytlyn Burrows, “Burrowing Owls eat huge numbers of insects, mice, voles and grasshoppers. Over the course of a summer, one owl family can consume up to 1800 rodents and 7000 insects!”

Nature Saskatchewan’s voluntary stewardship program, Operation Burrowing Owl, works with landowners and managers to conserve Burrowing Owl habitat and monitor population numbers at participating sites. Operation Burrowing Owl records sightings to help determine the population trend and distribution of the Burrowing Owl throughout Saskatchewan. The information can then be used towards efforts to conserve and restore the habitat and population of these charismatic birds.

“Without the voluntary efforts of landowners, land managers, and the general public, recovery of this unique prairie owl would not be possible” says Burrows. She encourages the public to “get out there this summer and explore, you never know what you will find.” If you are lucky enough to see a Burrowing Owl, please give a “hoot” by calling Nature Saskatchewan’s toll-free HOOT Line, 1-800-667-HOOT (4668) or email obo@naturesask.ca. “When you report a sighting you are playing a very important role in Burrowing Owl recovery. Every sighting is critical!” says Burrows. Private information is never shared without permission.

Photo credit: Kim Mann


 

May
27
Celebrating Arbor Week

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Late in 2019 the Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Assoiciation (YFBTA) agreed to work towards the revival of an annual province-wide observance of a spring Arbour Day/Arbour week. As a result of our work, and with the co-operation of Nature Saskatchewan and others, the Government of Saskatchewan through the office of Hon. Dustin Duncan, then Minister of Environment, an Arbour Day and Arbour Week were proclaimed. The initiative was severely limited due to issues around the pandemic. This year, with the support of Hon. Warren Kaeding, Minister of Environment, Arbour Day 2021 has been proclaimed for Friday May 28 and Arbour Week May 28-June 6. Promotion of Arbour Day/Arbour Week and planning for appropriate observances has again been limited due to the pandemic – regulations, uncertainties, conflicting priorities. It is our hope that schools and other community groups locally will be able to find meaningful ways to participate, and we appeal for your support. Individuals and groups may choose alternate dates while observing the intent and activities of Arbour Day/Week.

Some Interesting Arbour Day Information

First Record of an Arbour Day Celebration.

The Spanish village of Mondoñedo held the first documented arbour plantation festival in the world, organized by its Mayor in 1594. The place remains as Alameda de los Remedios and it is still planted with lime and horse-chestnut trees. A humble granite marker and a bronze plate recall the event. Additionally, the small Spanish village of Villanueva de la Sierra held the first modern Arbour Day, an initiative launched in 1805 by the local priest with the enthusiastic support of the entire population. While Napoleon was ravaging Europe with his ambition, in this village, in the Sierra de Gata, lived a priest, Don Juan Abern Samtrés. He, convinced of the importance of trees for health, hygiene, decoration, nature, environment and customs, decided to plant trees. The festival began on Carnival Tuesday with the ringing of two bells of the church. After the Mass, coated with church ornaments, Don Juan, accompanied by clergies, teachers and a large number of neighbours, planted the first tree, a poplar, in the place known as Valley of the Ejido. Tree plantations continued by Arroyada and Fuente de la Mora. Afterwards, there was a feast. The party and planting lasted three days. He drafted a manifesto in defense of the trees that was sent to surrounding towns to spread the love and respect for nature, and also, he advised to make tree plantations in their localities. ~ Miguel Herrero Uceda, Arbour Day First American Arbour Day. On the first American Arbour Day originated in Nebraska City, Nebraska by J. Sterling Morton on April 10, 1872, an estimated one million trees were planted in Nebraska. Birdsey Northrop of Connecticut was responsible for globalizing the idea when he visited Japan in 1883 and delivered his Arbour Day and Village Improvement message. In that same year, the American Forestry Association made Northrop the Chairman of the committee to campaign for Arbour Day nationwide. He also brought his enthusiasm for Arbor Day to Australia, Canada and Europe. Israel McCreight and Theodore Roosevelt . Beginning in 1906, Pennsylvania conservationist Major Israel McCreight of Dubois, Pennsylvania, argued that President Theodore Roosevelt's conservation speeches were limited to businessmen in the lumber industry and recommended a campaign of youth education and a national policy on conservation education. McCreight urged Roosevelt to make a public statement to school children about trees and the destruction of American forests. Conservationist Gifford Pinchot, Chief of the United States Forest Service, embraced McCreight’s recommendations and asked the President to speak to the public school children of the United States about conservation. On April 15, 1907, Roosevelt issued an "Arbour Day Proclamation to the School Children of the United States'' about the importance of trees and that forestry deserves to be taught in U.S, schools. Interestingly, Nebraska was a largely treeless prairie region when, on April 10, 1872, it became the first state to celebrate Arbor Day by planting trees. Trees Are Simply Amazing Julius Sterling Morton had moved to the Nebraska Territory in the mid-1850s with his wife, Caroline Joy Morton. He worked as a newspaper editor and politician. Both became known for their love of trees. An 1885 biography describes the greenery at their home, known as Arbour Lodge as including, “Flowers and flowering shrubs, and vines and evergreens in great abundance ...” Morton's reasons for promoting the idea of Nebraskans planting trees were many. He always kept the underlying economic importance of trees in mind and, as Nebraska's Governor, explained in his Arbour Day Proclamation of 1883 that planting trees could benefit the climate. Morton also believed that the beauty of trees was a reason unto itself: "To preserve beauty on the earth, beauty herself beseeches us to plant trees. and renew dead landscapes with the shadow and light of plant life flitting through the pendant limbs, the willowy boughs and the waving foliage of sturdy, yet graceful woods. Our ancestors planted orchards to fruit for us, and homes to give us shelter." Morton wasn’t the only one promoting tree planting at the time, but his idea for Arbour Day was quickly adopted in Nebraska and other states. Because of publication through newspapers, schools soon held planting ceremonies and read relevant passages from poetry and literature to mark the day. Arbour Day became a legal holiday in Nebraska in 1885 (April 22nd, to honour Morton's birthday), and eventually expanded to the U.S. as a whole and also to other countries. Arbor Day could not only teach students the importance of trees to the functioning of society, but also make them into "tree lovers. .A tree sentiment will be created and established which will lead us to recognize and cherish the trees as friends”. President Theodore Roosevelt remarked "a people without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees is almost as hopeless." A century after the holiday was first celebrated, the Arbour Day Foundation was created to continue encouraging people to plant and love trees, and President Nixon proclaimed National Arbour Day. In the U.S.A. the last Friday in April is National Arbour Day, which is when most states celebrate it. Variations are also celebrated with plantings all over the world. Morton, In 1887, in an Arbour Day address at the State University at Lincoln, Nebraska, stated why Arbour Day was unusual among holidays: “Each of those (other holidays) reposes upon the past, while Arbour Day proposes for the future. It contemplates, not the good and the beautiful of past generations, but it sketches, outlines, and establishes the useful and the beautiful for the ages yet to come.”

 

Thank you to the YFBTA for the Arbor Day information!

Jun
8
Our Goldilocks of the Grasslands is back - Sprague’s Pipits arrive back in Saskatchewan

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Regina, SK - June 7, 2021 - Sprague’s Pipits are back and on the lookout for their just right native mixed-grass prairie habitat. The middle of May is when the Sprague’s Pipits arrive in Saskatchewan after their long migration from their wintering grounds in Texas and northern Mexico.

This threatened species faces numerous threats ranging from habitat loss and fragmentation, invasion of exotic species and woody vegetation, as well as haying during their breeding season.

Pipits are most commonly found on blocks of native prairie larger than 160 acres (65 hectares). They require vegetation that is not too tall and dense nor too short and sparse, with some litter. Examples of preferred sites include lightly to moderately grazed, or periodically burned fields. “It is by knowing how particular they are with their breeding grounds that they are a very important identifier of ecosystem health and habitat change”, says Rebecca Magnus, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator at Nature Saskatchewan.

Once pipits find their preferred nesting area, they begin to weave dry grasses together in a cup shape on the ground and hide their nest by forming a dome of long grasses over top. The females then lay eggs between mid-May to mid-July, incubating 3-6 eggs for 10-12 days. The young then leave the nest 10-14 days after hatching. By mid-October all will have left for their winter destination in the warmer south.

Pipits are secretive songbirds and are rarely seen out in the open, often only identified by their song; a sweet, thin jingling series of notes that descends in pitch: ‘shing-a-ring-a-ring-a-ring-a’. “Fun Fact! Pipits can sing as high as 100 metres in the sky for up to 3 hours at a time”, says Magnus.

If you are a lucky Saskatchewanian and get not only to hear their song but to witness them on the landscape you will be able to identify them by the following features: they are small (15-17 cm in size) with brown and white streaked plumage, their breast is composed of a necklace of short streaks while their belly and flanks are unmarked, their head is characterized by a thin bill and relatively large brown eyes, and they have contrasting tail feathers with outer white and inner brown ones which are best seen during flight.

Nature Saskatchewan would greatly appreciate it if you see a Sprague’s Pipit or own land that contains their ideal mixed-grass prairie habitat that you please call our toll free HOOT line at 1-800-667-HOOT (4668). By reporting sightings to Nature Saskatchewan’s Stewards of Saskatchewan banner program you are helping to monitor the population and providing valuable information for the conservation of species at risk in our province. Your personal information is never shared without your permission.

 

For further information please contact Nature Saskatchewan:

           

Kaytlyn Burrows, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator   
(306) 780-9833
obo@naturesask.ca  

Melissa Ranalli, Species at Risk Manager
(306) 780-9270
mranalli@naturesask.ca

 

          

Jun
14
Beach time is here - for us AND the endangered Piping Plover!

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Regina, SK – June 14, 2021 – With the summer time near, it is time to head out to the beach on the weekend and bask in the sun along our beautiful Saskatchewan shorelines. Be on the lookout though, as this is also the time when the endangered Piping Plover shorebird will be on those same shorelines for a different reason…to nest!

The Piping Plover was designated as endangered in 1985, and remains listed as endangered due to low population numbers; ~750-800 plovers were seen in Saskatchewan during the 2011 and 2016 international census, down from ~1,435 in the 2006 census. “There are a number of factors contributing to their low numbers”, explains Rebecca Magnus, Plovers on Shore coordinator, “and one of those is human activity along shorelines”.

In mid-May the female Piping Plover lays four, well-camouflaged eggs along many of our Saskatchewan shorelines such as Lake Diefenbaker. The eggs are speckled, and blend in with the surrounding gravel and sand. Both parents incubate the eggs over ~28 days. The peak hatching occurs in mid-June. “Since Piping Plover eggs are very difficult to see and easy to accidentally trample, we are asking the public to watch carefully as they enjoy the sunshine along our shorelines during this critical time”, says Magnus.

 

You may also see the Piping Plover adult first, before you see any eggs. They have distinctive black markings - a single black neck band, a black band on the forehead, and a short black-tipped orange bill. “While similar, they can easily be distinguished from Killdeer based on their smaller size, the single neck band versus the two bands found on Killdeer, and their lighter colour”, adds Magnus.

Additionally, you may hear a Piping Plover calling for your attention and when you look over you may observe it running away, faking a broken wing. The Piping Plover is one of the few shorebirds to display this action, which it uses to distract predators away from its nests in order to protect it.

If you come across a nest site or think you may have seen a Piping Plover, please call our toll free Hoot Line at: 1-800-667-HOOT (4668).

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For further information please contact Nature Saskatchewan: 

 

Rebecca Magnus, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator
(306) 780-9832
outreach@naturesask.ca

           

Melissa Ranalli, Species at Risk Manager
(306) 780-9270
mranalli@naturesask.ca

Photo credit: James Villeneuve

           


 

Jun
22
Voices From the Field - June 23

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Hello from your summer 2021 Habitat Stewardship Assistants, Rachel Ward and Carmen LaBelle! We have returned from our first trip of the summer where we were helping out the Water Security Agency (WSA) with their annual Piping Plover Census!

 

Carmen (left) and Rachel (right) taking a short break on the beach. Photo by Carmen LaBelle

 

Our home-base for the week was a small private campground near Elbow, called Coyote Springs Campground. We arrived the day before the census to set up our little row of tents, along with the Coordinators and a couple volunteers. From there, we set off in small search and monitoring crews to look for and track our target species, the Piping Plover. This species is endangered in Canada and migrates north to our gravelly or sandy shorelines in mid-May to lay eggs and raise their young.

 

The Nature Saskatchewan team's campsites. Photo by Carmen LaBelle.

 

It was a privilege to learn from and help the WSA this season with their census. We were instructed how to find Piping Plovers by sight and sound while out on the beaches. They blend in much more than you might think! Often you hear them first, then have to stop and look around for them. By the end of the first day our eyes may have been a little strained from the binoculars, our feet a little tired from the walks on the beach… but our ability to spot them was increasing quickly!

 

A pair of Piping Plovers. Can you see both? Photo by Rachel Ward.

 

For the census, we were helping to count birds in pairs or singles. This involved watching the birds for a while once they were spotted, to see if there was another plover nearby and how they interacted. We saw many pairs but also got to see some territorial displays when a single plover or one from a separate pair would wander too close to the other. We also helped the WSA to locate nests, which they will be monitoring throughout the summer to help prevent losses due to flooding and predation. The WSA also tracks nests lost due to human disturbance from activities like driving along the beaches. Due to nesting on open beaches, Piping Plover nests are very well camouflaged and can be easily driven over without the drivers noticing.

 

Census work, with everyone spread out the width of the beach (left). A group picture of the crew (left). Photos by Carmen LaBelle.

 

We saw lots of cool things in addition to the plovers over the course of the week, including some bones, a pike jaw, and lots of mare’s tail. There was a lot of wildlife around such as pelicans, many species of waterfowl, double-crested cormorants, bank swallows, many shorebirds and an osprey or two! There was even a large pike eyeing up Carmen when she was dunking our buffs in the lake to help us keep cool!

 

Some bones on the beach (left), a pike jaw (middle) and a couple of Mare’s tail plants (right). Photos by Rachel Ward

 

 

A large Northern Pike looking at Carmen. Photo by Rachel Ward.

 

Along with having a great week of census work, we were able to get to know our fellow workers and enjoy a great bonding experience at the beginning of the season! From the campground we had easy access to a beach where we could enjoy wading into the lake, skipping stones and walking along the beach. Every evening the neighboring 3 deer would walk past and stand silhouetted against the sunset. Finally, we can't forget to mention our friendship with the campground donkey, Josie, who loved all our carrots, apples and scratches!

Until next time!

Rachel & Carmen

 

Gillian and Carmen on the beach near the campground (left). A sunset by our campsite with Josie the donkey (right). Photos by Rachel Ward.

 

Jul
5
Voices from the Field - July 5

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Hi, we are the Nature Saskatchewan Rare Plant Rescue team members Ashley Mills and Spencer Lyons. We recently joined Nature Saskatchewan this summer to search for species at risk in southern Saskatchewan. Spencer has dabbled in both archaeology and biology and is really into bones while Ashley’s background is mainly biology and she is especially interested in plants and birds. Between the two of us, there were always little treasures catching our eye as we embarked on the search for the rare Slender Mouse-ear-cress (aka. SMEC). Our first trip was a 10-day scorcher and wow what a tremendously fun way to kick off the field season. We found ourselves “SMEC” dab in the middle of a heat wave in Leader to begin and the week ended with wonderful rain showers in Eastend, SK. Every day, we found ourselves learning more than we could have ever imagined about Saskatchewan’s prairies and we both sat staring at the ceiling each night wondering what fascinating find we would uncover the following day.

 

 

The Rare Plant Rescue Search crew 2021, Ashley Mills and Spencer Lyons

 

This first search period consisted of looking for the elusive rare plant SMEC, a brassica (i.e, mustard family) that is rather tall and dainty with a spattering of small white flowers on top. This plant has not been located in a couple years and so we were excited to see if we could crack the case. To pass the time on our long transects we made up songs replacing words with SMEC and laughing until our guts hurt. After a weeks’ worth of searching we came up empty handed with no SMEC to show for our efforts. However, along the way we found multiple patches of the provincially rare Small lupine, as well as a Northern Blue Eyed Grass, Prickly Milk Vetch, and the stunning Gumbo Evening Primrose. We were out star gazing on Jone’s peak near Eastend when we happened to spot this beautiful white flower. It was fascinating to find such a big flower out on the prairies and especially one that blooms at night. What a treat!

 

 

In our off time we found the quietness and friendliness of the small towns to be quite enchanting. Visiting with the locals and landowners was a rewarding experience that brought both of us out of our shells and allowed us to feel like we were right at home. There was plenty of time in the evening to explore and no shortage of hidden gems to uncover. Checking out the life-size animal statues in Leader was a definite highlight, while the unique views from Jones Peak and Pine Creek Regional Park left us feeling like our little adventurer hearts were full to the brim. 

 

Our time in the field was never wasted and we found ways to take our mind off the frustrations of ending the day with no target species to show for it. After washing away our woes in a wonderful creek, we filled our cameras with countless plants, mushrooms, lichens and even an ant super city with “ant highways”. Ashley’s previous ID skills came in handy as she showed Spencer how to properly ID birds and plants while she learned about bone and lichen ID from him. Our happiness must have been at an optimal level since Ashely said and I quote, “my happiness is equally proportional to the amount of pictures I take per day”. We were definitely happy campers then because both our phones were full of pictures of the awesome adventure. After ten straight field days we are certainly ready for a well-earned rest which will hopefully fly by so we can get back to our rare plant search mission.

 

 

 

Note: All photos credited to Ashley Mills and Spencer Lyons

Jul
7
Young butcher birds are on the loose!

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Regina, SK – June 28, 2021 – “Young Loggerhead Shrikes - threatened, prairie songbirds - are going to be out over the next couple of weeks near their nests, learning to perfect their hunting and impaling skills,” says Rebecca Magnus, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator with Nature Saskatchewan. “This is probably the most fascinating time to observe shrikes as the young may be in groups of 4 to 7, clumsily hunting and impaling prey, not going too far from their nests”.

Butchers hang their meat to dry, and so too does the Loggerhead Shrike. Magnus explains, “instead of storing their meat in a meat locker as a butcher would, these birds impale and hang their prey on barbed wire fences, thorny shrubs, and trees, affording them the nickname ‘butcher bird’”. The shrike’s prey items include beetles, grasshoppers, garter snakes, mice, voles, frogs, and even other smaller songbirds. Similar to birds of prey Loggerhead Shrikes have hooked beaks; however, unlike most birds of prey, shrikes lack strong talons, and instead must impale a prey item in order to secure it during feeding.

The Loggerhead Shrike is slightly smaller than the American Robin. Shrikes have a black mask that extends from the black bill past the eyes. These birds earn the “Loggerhead” part of their name because they have relatively large heads, and the “Shrike” part of their name because they have a high-pitched shriek for an alarm call. The Loggerhead Shrike has a grey back with white underparts, and black wings and a black tail with characteristic white stripes on the wings and the edges of the tail. These traits are easily seen when shrikes are in flight.

To learn more about the Loggerhead Shrike, or if you have Loggerhead Shrikes and would be interested in an on-site visit from the Shrubs for Shrikes Habitat Stewardship Coordinator, please contact Nature Saskatchewan at 1-800-667-4668. Nature Saskatchewan is asking anyone who sees a Loggerhead Shrike to please report the sighting. By reporting Loggerhead Shrike locations, you are providing valuable information used to assess population size and distribution in order to help direct the conservation efforts for this threatened bird. Information will not be shared without permission.

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For further information please contact Nature Saskatchewan: 

 

Rebecca Magnus, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator
(306) 780-9832
outreach@naturesask.ca

 

Melissa Ranalli, Species at Risk Manager
(306) 780-9270
mranalli@naturesask.ca

 

Photo credit: May Haga

 

           

Jul
9
The Voice from the Field - July 9

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Spencer

This trip was a bumpy one that is for sure, the weather was up and down, and the wind almost knocked me to the ground. The entire ten days of the trip were spent near Eastend Saskatchewan where we searched for Dwarf Woolly-heads (Psilocarphus brevissimus). It was within the depressions of the prairie’s rolling hills where we spent most of our time looking for that small white puffy flower. Dwarf Woolly-heads are about the size of a dime and grow in sporadic clusters or as individuals. It was a good year for this species and the majority of the individuals observed were quite healthy despite the region being incredibly dry.
 

 

This is what a successful search looks like. Lots of flags means lots of dwarf woollyheads (plenty of counting to do)

 

Ash

Looking for such a small plant species has been challenging but we were lucky enough to come across several new populations of this rare species. Let me tell you, we had fun counting thousands and thousands of these tiny individuals out in the hot prairie sun. I really do feel honoured though to have the opportunity to see this incredibly rare species first hand. After all, it is only found in the very southwest corner of the province and these tiny fuzzy plants only occur in ephemeral wetlands. I didn’t know what the word ephemeral meant before this trip and now it is one of my favorite words. This trip has been ephemeral but the memories made with my awesome field mates will last a lifetime.

 

 

A cluster of beautiful looking dwarf woollyheads we found while out searching. These ones are actually pretty big in size (the size of a dime). Often we find clusters where individual plants are no bigger than a pea.

 

Gillian

Hiking between these ephemeral wetlands was a chore not to turn an ankle because the series of used or abandoned badger holes threaten to engulf your whole leg. That is when you are not tripping over bleached white bones of cows past. A welcome break to examine the remains and get creative.

 

Spencer and gillian jamming with their new bone instruments

 

Ash

Our search team has grown from two (myself and Spencer) to three. Having Gillian join us has been a blast. The three of us have bonded over our common struggles with ADHD. We often joke about how easily we get distracted and are always making up games to keep things interesting during long searches. The abundance of fascinating things to see helps keep our minds active nonstop as well. One afternoon, on our lunch break, Gillian spotted a dung beetle out on the dusty gravel road. I had no idea we had dung beetles in this province! The poor thing was desperately trying to roll a piece of gopher dung back to its family but every time it made progress, the wind blew it miles back. Being immersed in nature has allowed me to witness so many cool insect phenomena. While hiking to a search location, I happened to take a closer look a thistle. What I witnessed was a group of ants harvesting honeydew from aphids that were happily feeding on the plant's sap. So neat to see.


 

We saw a lot of shining arnica in bloom while out searching on this trip

 

Spencer

This part of the adventure was certainly interesting as we finally found the target species which was an awesome release of search tension. I doubled my plant and scientific knowledge with the double combination of Ashley and Gillian’s amazing capacity to communicate their ideas. The space this week allowed everyone to shine and find balance as a team despite the fierce wind and scorching heat.

 

 

A stunning pincushion cactus 

 

Gillian

We had the distinct pleasure of being dive bombed by willets during our work in one polygon. The Willet makes a call like will-will-willet, similar to the naming calls of Pokémon. Beside the call, Willets can be identified by their black and white wings while in flight. On the ground they look like large plovers that feature long beaks and legs. Many of the polygons we searched had nesting birds who enjoyed the water present in the ephemeral wetlands. Beside the Willets that disapproved of our visit, we saw pairs of Red-winged Black Birds and unidentified ducks. Both of which were not too happy about us stumbling upon their hidden nests.

While the animals of the air appeared in and out of sight, the animals of the ground provided a much more pleasant viewing experience. Several field mice flitted in and out of holes in the old folded grass covered in dried pond scum. In and amongst our feet slithered plains garter snakes with bright orange and yellow stripes amidst black scales. One of the largest individuals which we observed promptly escaped into the local dugout to hide amongst the algae.

 

 

A garter snake we saw out for a swim in the local dugout

 

Spencer

Each direction you look here contains millions of unique treasures. This time around I noticed more snakes, more nests, and more bones. The capturing of these finds and the rewarding learning experience has made the challenge of the long days not so bad. Especially searching for a speck in the vast prairies it’s nice to have a team to grow and have fun with.

 

 

scarlett guara -- another species we had the delight to see blooming while out searching on this trip.

 

Ashley

All in all, it’s been another successful trip with plenty of adventurous challenges and I am once again overjoyed by all the new plants I’ve learned and curious natural phenomena I’ve seen. Looking forward to a nice rest before heading back out :)

 

 

when life gives you ground plums, you.... stick them in your nose? Sometimes the scorching heat really gets to us while out in the field....

*all photos taken by Ashley Mills*

 

Aug
3
Young Burrowing Owls Are Learning the Ways of the World!

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Regina, SK – July 26th, 2021 – Saskatchewan’s Burrowing Owls are reaching an important stage in their life cycle – the young are now starting to leave the burrow and forage for themselves. The juvenile owls have been fed by their parents for many weeks, and they are now becoming more independent. If you are out and about during late July and into August, it is a great time to spot Burrowing Owls in rural Saskatchewan, but at the same time, it can also be a dangerous time for these inexperienced young owls.

Just like kids, the young Burrowing Owls have to learn the way of the world such as flying and hunting, but also must learn the way of the road. “The young owls often forage on grid roads and in ditches, where they find small invertebrates and rodents,” explains Kaytlyn Burrows, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator. “Unfortunately, many of these young owls are at risk of being struck by motorists whilst foraging along the sun-warmed roads.”

The Burrowing Owl population has been steadily declining, making the survival of each and every owl critical for the ultimate survival of the species. However, Kaytlyn Burrows says there are some things that we can do to help the juveniles survive this critical learning curve. “When motorists are driving in rural areas, particularly nearby pasture land, it’s important that they take a few extra minutes and slow down. This will reduce the risk of owl-vehicle collisions.” The owls are often found nesting in native or tame prairie that has been well grazed by cattle, as this shorter grass allows them to spot any nearby predators. They are often seen standing on or next to the burrow entrance, on nearby fence posts, or foraging in the ditches.

To identify a Burrowing Owl, there are some key features to watch for. Look for mottled brown and white feathers, white ‘eyebrows’, and long featherless legs that look like ‘stilts’. They are also small in size – Burrowing Owls are only 9 inches tall (about the size of a Meadowlark). Despite its name, the Burrowing Owl’s burrow is not dug by the owl itself; rather, they use abandoned burrows dug by badgers, ground squirrels (gophers), and other burrowing mammals.

Nature Saskatchewan has been involved with the protection and conservation of the Burrowing Owl for over 30 years, relying on the help of landowners, land managers, and the public. Operation Burrowing Owl partners with landowners across southern and central Saskatchewan to conserve habitat and monitor the Saskatchewan population through voluntary agreements. The program works alongside landowner practices, and the land continues to be used in a way that benefits the landowner. “If you see a Burrowing Owl, please give us a call on our toll-free Hoot Line, at 1-800-667-HOOT (4668) or email obo@naturesask.ca,” Burrows mentions. “You will be helping to monitor the population and aid with conservation efforts.” Information provided is never shared without permission.

 

For further information please contact Nature Saskatchewan:

 

Kaytlyn Burrows, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator
(306) 780-9833
obo@naturesask.ca

Melissa Ranalli,  Species at Risk Manager
mranalli@naturesask.ca

Photo credit: James Villeneuve

Aug
12
Hello again from the bird species at risk team, Rachel and Carmen!

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Hello again from the bird species at risk team, Rachel and Carmen!

We have returned from a 10 day trip travelling around the beautiful areas in far southern Saskatchewan doing grid road searches for species at risk and talking to landowners about our Stewardship programs!

We were lucky enough to see a variety of our target species, including some new families!

We observed several Ferruginous Hawk nests and a family of Loggerhead Shrikes with some fledglings just starting to venture a little further from the nest. The Ferruginous hawks are aptly nicknamed the king of hawks! They are the largest hawk in Saskatchewan and have a beautiful colour. When they soar overhead you can see the rusty-coloured ‘pants’ and if you are lucky you might even be able to pick out the cinnamon-coloured markings dusted along the underside of their wings. You can also see their characteristic yellow grin.

 

 

Ferruginous hawk sitting on a pole and flying. Photos by Rachel Ward.

 

We also had to outrun a storm or two in our first few days in the area and even had a tornado watch on our first night!

 

A hail storm that caught us on our third day of the trip. Photo by Carmen LaBelle

 

After a couple of nights in a motel, we set up our camping home base. From there we ventured forth on many more visits and grid road searches. We were still enjoying some wildlife right in camp, with the constant calls of Mourning Doves and some busy Robins. One morning we even had a Baltimore Oriole stop by during breakfast, which led to Rachel trying to put out a couple orange slices for them to snack on.

 

Our camping setup. Photo by Rachel Ward.

 

Rachel prepping lunch from the back of the vehicle (left). Rachel putting out an orange slice for the Baltimore Oriole (right). Photos by Carmen LaBelle.

 

At approximately the halfway point for our trip we encountered a Common Nighthawk. If you see a rock-like silhouette perched on a fence, it is worth a second look because it may be a nighthawk! They will often sit all tucked in, creating a fairly smooth and flat profile. We also were lucky enough to find insect and snake impalements, courtesy of a very busy Loggerhead Shrike. Carmen was so excited that she did an impromptu dance number on the side of the road.

 

 

Common Nighthawk on a fence post (top left). A garter snake impaled on a barbed wire fence (top right). A Chestnut-collared Longspur sitting in a shrub (bottom left). A grasshopper recently impaled on a barbed wire fence (bottom right). Photos by Rachel Ward.

 

We had some wonderful conversations and even got to cuddle a couple of foals during one visit!

 

Carmen petting a new participant&rsquo

 

We had a lot of fun and learned so much talking to all of the landowners who live in and take care of this beautiful area of our province. That’s all from us for now,

 

Rachel and Carmen :)

Aug
16
Let’s Get Ready to Celebrate Monarchs Together on August 21st!

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The last couple of weeks have seen a surge in Monarch butterfly and caterpillar (larvae) sightings. With the upcoming national Flight of the Monarch Day on August 21st, now is the perfect time to sharpen your Monarch identification skills and capture some photos and observations to share in the celebration!

“Follow us on social media to join in the celebration on August 21st” says Rebecca Magnus, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator with Nature Saskatchewan. “There will be something for everyone to participate in the virtual celebration, and participants can even win prizes such as a Monarch long-sleeve shirt or native wildflower seeds that adult butterflies need for energy to migrate!” explains Magnus. “You can start now by getting out and exploring your NatureHood to see if you can spot and photograph Monarch butterflies and caterpillars”.

Monarch butterflies are identifiable by their bright orange colouring with black veins throughout their wings, along with white spots on their black body and the outside edges of their wings. “Watch out for look-a-likes such as the Viceroy,” explains Magnus. “Viceroys look very similar but have an extra stripe on their hind wings that cross their veins.” The Monarch caterpillars have distinct white, yellow and black stripes with black tentacles on both ends. Magnus adds “you will see these caterpillars nearly exclusively on milkweed plants”.

Monarchs are a species at risk throughout their range with Saskatchewan being at the northern extent of their range. Magnus says “it takes between three and four generations for Monarchs to get from their over-wintering grounds, in Mexico, to Saskatchewan.” She adds “the generation emerging now will live the longest, making the full journey south back to Mexico to overwinter, so it is extra important that we help conserve the habitat for this incredibly important generation of Monarchs.” Nature Saskatchewan runs the voluntary Stewards of Saskatchewan program that works with communities and landowners to conserve Monarch habitat and help monitor the population each year.

If you see a Monarch in Saskatchewan, would like more information about the national Flight of the Monarch Day on August 21st or the Stewards of Saskatchewan program, call Nature Saskatchewan’s toll-free line at 1-800-667-HOOT (4668), text (306) 780-9832, or email us at outreach@naturesask.ca. Please also feel free to share photos, we love to see them!

 

For further information, please contact Nature Saskatchewan:

           

Rebecca Magnus,  Habitat Stewardship Coordinator    
Phone: (306) 780-9832
Email: outreach@naturesask.ca

Lacey Weekes, Conservation & Education Manager
Phone: (306) 780-9481
Email: lweekes@naturesask.ca

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: M. Ranalli

 

Aug
18
Rare Plant Rescue visits the sandhills of Fox Valley/Piapot

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Visiting the sand hills was an exciting change of landscape for us on the RPR team. Ashley was especially excited to visit the dunes as her last memory of the sand hills from when she was a small child involved eating copious amounts of sand while tobogganing down the dunes. Fortunately, it wasn’t too windy during our 10-day stint and nobody took any terrible tumbles, so sand consumption was kept to a minimum. Our mission -- find the federally threatened Smooth Goosefoot. The dunes we were tasked with searching had never been looked at by Nature Sask before and thus we did not know if we would find this species. It only grows in recently disturbed sand dunes and is in bloom this time of year. Spencer had estimated that the entire quarter would have over 40 occurrences which was a guess that was close but no cigar. In total the quarter section ended up having 37 total occurrences which he didn't think was too bad either. To the team's surprise, one of our search dunes brought up over 30 new occurrences itself. This was a massive dune where we spent the majority of our trip cataloguing the goosefoot present on the margins.

 

Photo credit: Ashley Mills

 

At first glance, smooth goosefoot appears to be this gangly, awkward looking plant with some green nodules on it. If you look closer, however, you see that it has teeny tiny beige flowers. Sometimes it pays to take a closer look! Ashley has been practising her macro photography skill on all the plants and insects we come across. Smooth goosefoot has definitely been a challenge to photograph since it blends so easily into the landscape. Good thing Spencer's leg is always available as a backdrop.

We also had a stroke of luck in terms of finding some provincially rare plant species. Beaked Annual Skeletonweed, which appears nearly identical to the Common Skeletonweed to the untrained eye, and Small Lupin kept us busy during our Goosefoot search. There was no shortage of these two species at our location either.

 

Photo credit: Ashley Mills

 

We saw Big Sand Tiger Beetles, Ant Lions, Velvet Ants (which are actually bees!), and a species of Sand Wasp to name a few. The Sand Wasps were particularly tricky since we were really stomping all over their homes as we searched the steep edges of the search area. This definitely made someone mad! Spencer got it rough one day when a wasp got caught between the GPS strap and his hand which caused the wasp to repeatedly bite over and over again. Wow was it was funny, but also painful. Moral of the story, if you go kicking down someone's door don't expect them to let you off with a warning. The insects are definitely two sides of the same coin as they are as fascinating as they can be nasty.

 

Photo credit: Ashley Mills

 

An unfortunate event saw the creation of these poems when a grasshopper landed in Ash’s freshly opened hummus container. Can you guess what perspectives each poet considered?
 

Wave of Hummus by Spencer

Minding my business, jumping around
I suddenly feel as if I might drown

 

Untitled by Gillian

Shaken and battered my film ripped asunder
the cracker bag splits, loudly as thunder.
Before scraping my surface, a surprise and a plop
the wind carries insect in one mighty hop.
With legs for singing and my surface sinking
a grasshopper struggles in my spicy slop.

 

Grasshopper hummus by Ashley

Out for a hop
In need of a snack
A wave of smell tickles my neck
I ready myself, driven by delight
For one great jump should bring me just right
I land with a plop
And find sudden regret
As i struggle to move on
For my hopper’s all wet

 

Photo credit: Ashley Mills

 

Photo credit: Ashley Mills

 

Aug
19
One last trip for the Rare Plant Rescue Crew

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The end of our last trip was a good segue into this one — our final search location we found more Dwarf Woolly-heads (DWH) than one could count in a lifetime. We had to leave because there were just too many for us to count before the trip ran out. Typically, we would count each DWH when we find them. When the population count is in the thousands it’s doable. However, the land which we searched for DWH this trip was just too prolific. Each ephemeral wetland area was packed end to end with a carpet of dried up dwarf woolly heads. Thankfully we got to use an estimation method for these ones. We aren’t joking though when we say we saw Dwarf Woolly-heads when we closed our eyes at night.

 

A look at one of our sample plots filled with dwarf woollyheads. Definitely challenging to count this many individual plants. Photo credit: Ashley Mills

 

While the constant counting was pretty extensive, we were once again treated to many fascinating prairie sights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our resident photographer Ash Mills spotted what appeared to be 3 poops suspended in a hole. It is odd to see the feces of Richardson's Ground Squirrels (gophers) displayed, so a second look was given. Much to our surprise and delight the hole was occupied by a Western Black Widow spider who had 3 egg sacks not gopher poops. Crouched about the hole with a macro lens and impressive flexibility, Ash captured splendid photographs of the spider that can be viewed on Nature Saskatchewan’s instagram.

 

The beautiful black widow we found living in an old badger hole sporting her menacing red hourglass on her abdomen. Photo credit: Ashley Mills

 

Ashley -- I have always had a fascination with insects. I have never formally studied them in school, but being out in the field for Nature Sask this summer has been an excellent opportunity to see some remarkable many-legged creatures. My newly developed passion for identifying plants has leaked into the arthropod world and now I spend hours trying to identify all the things we find every night. I have always deeply enjoyed photography and have finally taken it upon myself to get a macro lens so I can get good quality photos of the tiny marvels that I see. I am very thankful for the patience of my coworkers as I am always stopping to take a picture of this or that neat thing.

 

A wasp snacking on some nectar from a thistle. Photo credit: Ashley Mills

 

This trip we experienced a myriad of weather extremes. Days were spent on hot dry prairie, not a spot of shade to be found. The plant life was devoid of moisture that so easily escaped from our pores. The trip included several storms that brought little rain and high winds. Many mornings we would arise to see garbage and recycle bins on their sides or part way down the road. Several times our phones did chime or rather blare with tornado warnings. Many days were spent next to the precipice of thunderstorms, but only once did we flee for safety. Perhaps it is not best to be the tallest thing for kilometers when lightning strikes. At least the storm provided much needed rain to the area and cleaned our work vehicles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Towards the end of our trip the musicians in our hearts could not be contained and a jam session broke out as the sun was setting. The air had finally cooled enough that sitting outside was comfortable. With two guitars and three voices, we played soothing songs and struggled through new ones. Audio recordings not in the public domain. Another wonderful trip. Excited for what’s to come next.

 

Ashley holding one of the massive mormon crickets that we frequently saw out in the field on this trip. The vibrant green color and way they hop almost tricks you into thinking its a frog.

 

*Photo credits: Ashley Mills*

Aug
31
Register for our upcoming webinar - The Great Migration!

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Featuring presentations by:

  • Nature Saskatchewan
  • Geoff Holroyd, Retired Research Scientist
  • Katie-Lyn Bunney, Monarch Joint Venture

Click here to register

Sep
8
A Summer of Adventures for the Rare Plant Rescue Assistant

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What a summer of adventures and learning experiences with Nature Saskatchewan! I got to visit areas of the province I have never been.

The summer started out by Leader looking for Slender Mouse-ear-cress. Sadly, I didn’t get to find that one, but I got the chance to meet amazing landowners and explore the beautiful prairies. This trip was my first experience with field work, so my feet were definitely sore by the end. Thankfully my feet have toughened up so I can handle the hiking better now. This was my first experience with transect work as well so I learned a lot! During our training before this trip we couldn’t do transect work because we got snowed out (in late May)! Lucky for me and the search crew, we had a great teacher Emily who got us all prepped and ready to search.

Later in June we searched for Dwarf Woolly-heads, sadly we did not find any this trip, but I got close to some cute cows and saw bird species at risk. This was the hottest trip of the summer, and we took breaks to be able to handle the heat. I learned many new plant species’ names. This summer has not helped to improve my posture; many of our target plants are very tiny so it requires slow and hunched walking.

 

Photo credit: Olivia Yurach. The search for Dwarf Woolly-heads and a close up

 

In July we went south to search for Dwarf Woolly-heads again and were lucky to find an occurrence in a new RM! This expanded the known location of this species. Until then, the species were only found in one RM, but that has expanded this summer. We also found the DWH (federally listed species) surrounded by a provincially rare plant, pincushion plant. Each morning of this trip the coyotes would sing at the same time, and they sounded so happy to see each other. While looking for the Dwarf Woolly-heads, we found hundreds of frogs, Morman Crickets (bigger than the frogs) and we even got to see a weasel. On this trip we also encountered many bird species at risk including a few Ferruginous Hawks, Common Nighthawks and Lark Buntings. On the last day of this trip the cows were very interested in our vehicle. From a distance they looked like they were just standing near it, but when we came back at the end of the day we discovered the entire vehicle was covered in lick marks!

 

 

Photo credit: Olivia Yurach. Baby bird in one of our transects (left), Caterpillar munching on a leaf (top right) and the sunrise before our car was licked by cows (bottom right)

 

Towards the end of August, we searched for Tiny Cryptantha and Small-flowered Sand-verbena. While searching for those species we encountered a lot of a provincially rare species called Dakota Stinking Goosefoot! As the name suggests, it does not smell good and unfortunately I set my jacket near a cluster of them. While searching, Rachel and I were greeted by a horse that was looking for some treats. The Tiny Cryptantha searches had tough terrain. We hiked steep hills and the mud was not our friend. While navigating to the start of a transect I was looking down at the GPS and walking quite quickly. All of a sudden I heard a distinct rattle noise and instantly backed up. When I looked up I saw a clear image of a rattlesnake coiled up with the tail shaking and its head pulled up looking at me. I had a slight heart attack while I backed away. On the next transect after the snake encounter we were fortunate to have a bird species at risk fly over us! Rachel counted over 30 common night hawks flying above us. It felt really special to see such a large number of an at-risk species flying together. This trip was a wonderful way to wrap up the season.

 

Photo credit: Olivia Yurach. Provincially rare - Dakota Stinking Goosefoot (left), a friend we met out in the field (right).

 

My summer was filled with fun adventures and amazing learning experiences. I am extremely grateful to have worked with such a wonderful group of people who care deeply about our province. I am excited to keep updated with Nature Saskatchewan through the fall and winter, they are always busy doing great work. A special thanks to my amazing boss Emily and all the landowners I got to chat with and visit. Your commitment to Nature Saskatchewan was clear and allowed me to have these amazing experiences!

 

 

Photo credit: Olivia Yurach.

 

 

 

 


 

Sep
8
Come Work with Us

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Nature Saskatchewan Office Coordinator


Nature Saskatchewan is searching for an energetic, detail-oriented individual for the position of Office Coordinator, reporting to the Executive Director. The successful candidate will be able to work co-operatively with key stakeholders, be responsible for administrative duties (e.g. accounts payable and receivable, financial coding, supplies, inventory, files); manage member correspondence using the membership/donor database (Donor Perfect); be proficient with technology and software, including experience with Microsoft Office; assist with meeting and event preparations; handle merchandise sales; and provide support for projects as required.

The position is full-time (37.5 hr/wk, 8:30am-4:30pm), Monday-Friday, and a comprehensive benefits package is available. This is a one year term position with possibility of extension. Starting salary is $37,950/year minimum, commensurate on experience. Opportunities for growth and training are available.

Please submit your cover letter, resume and references via email by September 23, 2021 to:

Jordan Ignatiuk at jignatiuk@naturesask.ca
Indicate in the subject heading: Office Coordinator Position

Sep
13
Time to Observe, Support and Celebrate Migration!

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Regina, SK – September 13th, 2021 – Migration season is in full swing for the majority of wildlife that travel through southern Saskatchewan on their journey to their overwintering grounds in the southern USA and central and south America. This is a great time to observe, support and join in the celebrations for some of the greatest migrations on earth!

Make sure to grab your binoculars and take advantage of this spectacular season! Several species at risk pass through on their routes south including the beautiful Monarch butterfly, boreal songbirds such as the Olive-sided Flycatcher or even the tallest bird in Canada, the Whooping Crane! Whooping Cranes can be heard flying overhead with their distinctive whooping call and fly with their necks outstretched, providing a distinct white shape with black tipped wings. If you are lucky enough to spot a species at risk please contact Nature Saskatchewan to report and help track their incredible journey.

Migrating wildlife face many hazards while travelling, but there are several things that you can do to help! Driving slower on rural roads helps to decrease collisions with vehicles. Outdoor cats pose a significant risk to birds, particularly when they are tired from long flights. Keeping cats indoors or on a lead helps to protect birds, especially during this time of year. Window strikes are also very dangerous and kill many birds every year. You can reduce this risk by adding stickers or markings with tempera paint or soap to the outside of your windows. They should be spaced no more than 4 inches apart vertically or 2 inches horizontally. 

And finally, join in the migration celebration by joining us for our webinar “The Great Migration” on September 14 at 7pm CST to learn about the migration of Burrowing Owls and Monarch butterflies. Visit the Last Mountain Bird Observatory in Last Mountain Regional Park for a rare opportunity to observe our migratory birds up close. Also, join the Get Outside Kids Club! This is a free outdoor education program for children and their parent/guardian between the ages of 6 and 13.

To register for these events, or to make an appointment to visit the Last Mountain Bird Observatory please go to www.naturesask.ca. If you see a species at risk in Saskatchewan please call Nature Saskatchewan’s toll-free line at 1-800-667-HOOT (4668) or text (306) 780-9832. Please also feel free to share photos, we love to see them!

 

                                                        - 30-

 

For further information, please contact Nature Saskatchewan:

Rebecca Magnus, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator 
Phone: (306) 780-9832
Email: outreach@naturesask.ca               

Lacey Weekes, Conservation & Education Manager
Phone: (306) 780-9481
Email: lweekes@naturesask.ca

 

Photo credit: Kim Mann