Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer days at Cherry Lake

White beardtongue on the prairie

This posting is an attempt to catch up and show some of what I've been doing and seeing out at our place at Cherry Lake in the Upper Indian Head Creek Valley. (This will be my last posting for a week or two. I am taking my daughter, Maia, on a tour of the prairie places I love best and some places I have never seen.)

These intrepid and happy (though moist) folks were with me on the 29th of May doing the first annual Cherry Lake Birdathon. We stayed mostly in the Indian Head Creek drainage, within 15 kms of Cherry Lake and managed on a very wet day to record 116 species, including two Mourning Warblers, a Connecticut Warbler, and a Sandhill Crane (one or two seem to hang around the Strawberry Lakes each summer). All told, we raised $2115 dollars for Bird Studies Canada, the lion's share going to the Last Mountain Bird Observatory banding station. Thanks to all who came out for the day and to those who donated to the cause.

The following Sunday we held "Bright Wings," a bird festival. 55 people came out for the day, taking workshops and tours to learn about the birds we share this watershed with. In this photo, the workshop and tour leaders are meeting for a short confab before getting started.

A photographer friend, Rocky Marchigiano led bird photography workshops with Ryan Peterson. Here are some photos he took during the festival, which he graciously allowed me to post.

A Black-crowned Night Heron. . .

And a Wilson's Phalarope. . .

And, another characteristic bird of the valley, American White Pelican.

There are always bright wings at Cherry Lake and not all of them are avian. Like most prairie farms, our place has a lilac hedge and when it blooms, as it was two weeks ago, the butterflies arrive. A pair of Monarch butterflies spent two days working the hedge blossoms.

Several Red Admirals joined in. . . .

As well as this Northwestern Frittilary. . . .

. . .and this ragged and torn Mourning Cloak.

A bumble bee (left) and a Yellow Warbler were in the hedge at the same time.

That evening, we went for a walk up on the grassland to look at the profusion of blooms on the prairie after the months of rain. Here are some of the flowers.

Great Plains Indian Paintbrush. . . .

Yellow Umbrellaplant. . . .

Indian Breadroot. . . .

Ground Plum (these are the seed pods). . . .

And the beautiful Plains Rough Fescue.

This guy was running through a patch of speargrass on a hilltop: the Smooth Green Snake, a species that reaches its limits in this part of Saskatchewan and is not that common, though we find it regularly each summer at Cherry Lake.


  1. Beautiful, amazing pictures. Looks like it was a fine day.

  2. nice photo; and nice blog congratulations

  3. Thanks Stephen. I just returned from a bit of vacation and found your comment. I hope things are well with you.

    Trevor H

  4. Gorgeous photos! I've lived in two provinces with smooth green snakes and I've still never seen one. Booooo!

    1. Thanks Steve--they are more common that we realize I think.


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