CrossIron Mills mall is a convenient place to meet for eastern (or northern) outings, and we assemble there early on October 4. Phil drives us toward the provincial border through intermittent ground fog and a wintry zero temperature, and we manage to pick out several “Alberta” Sandhill Cranes along the way. On the Saskatchewan side we continue through Kindersley and Rosetown to Saskatoon where we meet local birder Ron Jensen. He tells us the good news: Whooping Cranes are being seen. Ron and his friend Ray lead us on an hour’s drive and we are treated to a marvelous view of a large group of these endangered birds. Also in the area we find many Sandhills, plus thousands of Snow, “Blue”, Greater White-fronted, Cackling and Canada Geese. The sights and sounds as the flocks take off and land, always with “greetings” to one another, make for a truly a magnificent waterfowl spectacle.
|View of the cranes (those white specks!) from the car|
|Dancing Whooping Cranes with Sandhill Cranes looking on (with telephoto lens)|
Ron and Ray expertly guide us to a Saskatoon pub where we toast our good fortune with fine locally-brewed refreshments.
|from left to right: Ron, Mike, Ray, Phil, Brian, Ray|
|American Badger running away from us|
No one expected to hit the trifecta, but it happened. Any or all – crane, badger, rat – could easily have been missed. The drive home the following day is cushioned by memories of our successful prairie visit, and we wonder what lies ahead at Haida Gwaii.
- Mike -