Saturday, October 2, 2010

October 1, 2010 Birding Gardiner Dam/Lake Diefenbaker and Luck Lake, Sask.

On our last day birding Saskatchewan we headed down to the Gardiner Dam/Lake Diefenbaker and Luck Lake. The Gardiner Dam/Lake Diefenbaker was opened in 1967 and is a great fall location for gulls and water birds, as is nearby Luck Lake. The birding was incredible with 1000's of water birds on Luck Lake and a nice assortment around Gardiner Dam. At the dam we added Common Loon to our list and at the Visitor's Center there was an interesting flock of gulls resting along the beach. On my first scan I pick out a juvenile Franklin's Gull amongst the Herring and Ring-billed Gulls and noticed a dark mantled gull resting. Due to the bright sunlight I repositioned myself and had a good view through the scope and saw it was a 3rd year Lesser Black-backed Gull. This is a rare but increasing visitor to Saskatchewan. Fellow birder,Bob Luterbach of Regina noted 8 or 9 during the spring migration. The first record for the province was only a couple of decades ago and the increase fits the general pattern that we are experiencing in the east. Also around the Visitor's Center there was a number of land birds including a late Canada Warbler and a few Pine Siskins. After navigating a number of back roads we found Luck Lake and weren't disappointed. There was an amazing number of water birds, 40,000+ mainly Snow Geese but good numbers of puddle ducks and a nice variety of shorebirds including 2000+ Long-billed Dowitchers. A number of Bald Eagles, both adult and immature were cruising the shoreline flushing large numbers of Snow Geese. As they lifted off the water they looked like a distant tidal wave.

Completed in 1967 Lake Diefenbaker/Gardiner Dam is an important area for birders to check and a number of new species have been added to the Saskatchewan list.

Lesser Black-backed Gull at Lake Diefenbaker.

The Lesser Black-backed Gull is now a rare but regular visitor to Saskatchewan.

A Canada Warbler at the Visitor Center at Lake Diefenbaker was a surprise.

An adult Sandhill Crane near Luck Lake.

Luck Lake is an amazing area to bird watch.

The Snow Goose was the most common water bird on Luck Lake.

Bald Eagles kept the Snow Geese on edge.

The Long-billed Dowitcher was the common shorebird with 2000+ individuals at Luck Lake.

A juvenile Bald Eagle on the look out for lunch.

Both American Avocet and Stilt Sandpiper were present in small numbers.

Fall plumage Stilt Sandpipers feeding at Luck Lake

A Merlin patiently waiting for breakfast to fly by.

A distant view of Luck Lake.

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