Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Atwood Dinner June 27--please help spread the word

Margaret Atwood
Graeme Gibson (image courtesy of Dennis Minty)


You may have heard the exciting news that from June 24 to June 28, Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson, two of Canada’s most celebrated authors, will tour Saskatchewan’s southern grasslands in the company of other international conservation advocates. They will be hosted by Public Pastures - Public Interest and Nature Canada.

This is an educational tour. The group, all prominent figures in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of conservation organizations, is hoping to draw attention to the global significance of conservation programming and bird habitat at risk on federal PFRA community pastures now being transferred to Saskatchewan.

How you can help

I would like to ask that you help to promote the Prairie Passages fundraising dinner at the Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan in Regina on Thursday, June 27.

After dinner Atwood and Gibson will speak, reflecting on their visit to our grasslands and pastures, the birdlife and species at risk, and their own passion for conservation. There will be great images from the tour, music, and a chance to meet our international guests.

Here is how you can help:

  1. Circulate the handbill for the dinner (click here to download the pdf) to your contacts, organization members, and friends. Print it off and share it.
  2. Post the notice below in your newsletters and social media networks. Here is the link to the PPPI dinner announcement with details.
  3. Encourage your friends and colleagues to buy tickets or sponsor a corporate table.
  4. Call the Globe Theatre for a ticket for yourself and be a part of this event!
  5. Watch for more updates on the tour.
Our other tour guests are prominent in their own right. They are: Glenn Olson, National Audubon Society; Rob Clay, BirdLife International; Dr. Alberto Yanosky, from Paraguay, Southern Cone initiative and BirdLife International; and, Ian Davidson, Executive Director of Nature Canada.

Pictures suitable for the internet are shown at the top of this post. Please include the photo credit for Dennis Minty for Graeme Gibson’s photo.


Prairie Passages Dinner: An Evening with Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson
Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan in Regina, Regency Ballroom
Thursday, June 27, Cocktails at 6:30 P.M. Dinner at 7:30 P.M.

Join two of Canada’s most celebrated authors, conservationists, and prominent members of BirdLife International as they reflect on their passion for birds, wildlife, grasslands, and their recent travels in Saskatchewan. This is an educational event. The dinner is the highlight of the Prairie Passages tour with Atwood, Gibson, and other international guests from the conservation community. The purpose is draw attention to the global significance of conservation programming and bird habitat at risk on federal PFRA community pastures now being transferred to Saskatchewan.

Your MC will be Candace Savage, one of Saskatchewan’s most respected writers. Her most recent book, A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape, won the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction and the 2013 Saskatchewan Book of the Year Award.

This event is hosted by Public Pastures-Public Interest and Nature Canada. Visit the dinner webpage:

Tickets: $100, available at the Globe Theatre Box Office:

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Long awaited spring at Cherry Lake: a photo album

Hard winter for the mule deer. This one looked shaky on its legs as it moved over the hill
Yesterday, Karen and I made our first trip of the spring (the latest ever!) to see how the honeybees and wild creatures made it through the longest winter in decades.

no garter snakes above ground at the den but here is a shot of a shed from last fall

this spring's prescribed burn on our native grass hillsides

a big patch of juniper lends some colour to the scorched hillside

Our honeybees were gathering pollen from Pasque Flower (prairie crocus) blooms a quarter mile from their hives

In the creek, water near the beaver lodges open first

Birds for the day included Eastern Phoebes, a Broad-winged Hawk, Purple Finches and a pair of courting Northern Harriers. The male in this image was resting three fence posts from the female.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The snow is going--time to dance: some video of sharptails on their lek

Male Sharp-tailed Grouse resting between sets
A week ago Saturday I was with some Public Pastures--Public Interest supporters watching Sharp-tailed Grouse dance on their dancing grounds or "lek." It is one of the last active dancing grounds anywhere near the city of Regina--primarily because more than 99% of the native grasslands that once covered the Regina Plains eco-district is now gone.

This bird, so much a part of prairie lore all over the Great Plains, is our provincial bird and deserves to have its remaining courtship habitat protected.

Our provincial and federal community pastures (the PFRA ones the Federal government is handing back to the Province) contain much of the best sharptail lands in Canada.  Hunters and birders alike love to see this bird in good numbers, and its very presence on these pastures testifies to the public interest in ensuring that the land is managed well.

Here is a first video clip showing a couple of males squaring off. If you crank up the volume, you can hear their "oom" sounds.

This clip shows two males in a bit of a flap as they fight for the best corners of the stage, hoping that will get them a chance to breed with one of the females hiding in the grass beyond the edges of the lek. Towards the end of the 25 second clip you can hear the song of a Western Meadowlark in the background. Is there any better way to greet the dawn in this part of the world?

Here is a brochure on the species put out by the US Dept of Agriculture, which has a Natural Resources Conservation Service, unlike Canada, which under Stephen Harper saw fit to dismantle the Agriculture Environmental Services Branch and its staff who once published similar documents.

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