Day 1 – Arrival in Saskatoon where we spend the night.
Days 2 to 5 – Our schedule will remain open during these days so we can ‘chase after’ groups of Whooping Cranes as these rare and stately birds make their way south. Local birders keep close tabs on the movements of these birds so we will keep in contact with them to find out about the most recent sightings.
During our stay we plan on visiting a number of excellent birding locations within driving distance of our ‘home base’ in Saskatoon. Local lakes and reservoirs attract vast numbers of southbound migrant geese with flocks consisting mainly of Canada and Snow geese, with lesser numbers of Greater White-fronted, Ross’s and Cackling geese mixed in. In addition to geese, other waterfowl including a vast array of species all in their fresh alternate plumage, will be congregating before vacating the region prior to ‘the big freeze’. October is a good time to spot migrant raptors over the prairies, so we’ll keep our eyes skyward for Northern Harriers, Rough-legged Hawks, Northern Goshawk and of course owls which could include an early Snowy Owl or Northern Hawk-Owl.
We will visit Last Mountain Lake, the site of Canada’s very first federal bird sanctuary, established in 1887. This area, comprised mostly of lake and wetland, is excellent for staging Sandhill Cranes, and Whooping Cranes regularly occur here as well during October. Great flocks of geese, ducks and swans also can be found here at Last Mountain. We will scan through grasslands and fields for open country species such as the predatory Northern Shrike, and southbound flocks of Lapland Longspurs and Horned Lark. With luck we’ll find Smith’s Longspur or Snow Buntings also mixed in.
Before we wrap up our tour in Saskatchewan we’ll visit forest habitats not far from Saskatoon home to an array of species such as the elusive Ruffed Grouse, as well as White-breasted Nuthatches, White-throated Sparrows, Hairy Woodpeckers and noisy Blue Jays. As we travel around Saskatchewan we have a good chance of finding a couple of uncommon grassland game birds as well, the introduced Gray Partridge and the declining Sharp-tailed Grouse. We will return to Saskatoon in the mid-to-late afternoon on Oct 7 where the tour will conclude.