Secret and Terrific Birding Hotspots in Saskatchewan
5 Hidden Birding Gems in Saskatchewan
Beyond the usual Prairie Birding sites
Birding Hotspots in Saskatchewan makes for a rich and rewarding experience during all seasons. Over 350 bird species can be seen in Saskatchewan, from forest birds like the Connecticut Warbler and Boreal Chickadee in northern Saskatchewan, to grasslands birds like Baird's Sparrows and Sprague's Pipits in the southwest, to endangered species such as Piping Plovers, Sage Grouse, and Burrowing Owls. While seasoned bird watchers flock to well-known hotspots like Chaplin Lake, the Quill Lakes Important Bird Area, and the fully accessible Wascana Center Trail in Regina, there are many other spectacular birding opportunities across the province. Here are five hidden gems we discovered while birding the Trans Canada Trail in Saskatchewan.
"Birds are magical. Their flight alone can arouse a clever thought."
Michael Bassey Johnson, Song of a Nature Lover
Birding Hotspots in Saskatchewan Includes Nicolle Flats Marsh Interpretive Area
Trail: The 4.5 km long Dyke Trail is a great place to begin birding the Trans Canada Trail in Saskatchewan. It follows the north shore of the Nicolle Flats Marsh, which is located at the confluence of the Qu'Appelle and Moose Jaw Rivers in the southeastern part of Buffalo Pound Provincial Park. The Dyke is a mostly flat, well-maintained, clearly marked, grassy track which is suitable for beginner hikers. In addition, other trails which also offer exceptionally good birding are accessible from the Dyke Trail, including the 0.5 km Marsh Boardwalk Trail, the 1.5 km Valley Interpretive Trail, the 3 km Nicolle Flats Trail, and the 3 km Bison View Interpretive Trail.
Description: The Nicolle Flats Marsh Interpretive Area is a diverse wetland located at the southeast end of Buffalo Lake in a rich prairie landscape. The slopes of the surrounding valley are covered in native grassland and the coulees are filled with patches of trees, including Manitoba Maple, Trembling Aspen, and Balsam Popular.
Birds: Over 204 bird species have been reported in the Nicolle Flats Marsh, including American White Pelicans, Black-crowned Night Herons, and Franklin's Gulls. Moreover, this wetland is classified as an Important Bird Area due to a historically important breeding colony of Black Terns, and it is also a nesting area for Great Blue Herons, and the location of the only confirmed breeding record the Cinnamon Teal in Saskatchewan. In summer, the adjacent ravines support breeding populations of Willow Flycatchers, Yellow-breasted Chats and other forest birds, and in spring and fall the area hosts thousands of migrating waterfowl.
Diefenbaker Lake Important Bird Area, on the Elbow Trail
Trail: The 7 km Elbow Trail is another located along the 68 km long section of Trans Canada Trail that follows the shoreline of Lake Diefenbaker from Douglas Provincial Park in the southeast to Danielson Provincial Park in the northwest. This well signed and immaculately maintained trail is part of the quintessential prairie trail experience, taking hikers, cyclists, and bird watchers over undulating grassy hills and down into treed coulees as it follows the lakeshore. Moreover, the Elbow Trail is a great place to bird the Trans Canada Trail in Saskatchewan because it features lookouts and rest areas with fantastic views of the lake and its sandy beaches, opportunities to swim, and a variety of options to stop for a meal in Elbow.
Description: Birding hotspots in Saskatchewan includes Diefenbaker Lake. The lake was created in the late 1950's when the Gardiner Dam was constructed on the South Saskatchewan River, creating a water body that is over 100 km long and 1-3 km wide. Long sandy beaches and steep, eroded slopes surround the lake, with the surrounding land supporting patches of native prairie, pastures and cultivated land, as well as steep wooded coulees along the numerous creeks that flow into the lake.
Birds: Over 177 species have been reported on eBird in and around Diefenbaker Lake, and because the sandy shores along the eastern portion of the lake support one of the largest populations of Piping Plovers in Saskatchewan it has been designated an Important Bird Area. In addition, the lake is also an important staging area for waterfowl, with large groups of Snow Geese, Common Goldeneyes, Eared Grebes and many others being reported in fall and winter. Furthermore, aerial insectivores such as Bank Swallows, Cliff Swallows, and Common Nighthawks are abundant along the shores, and in winter Snow Buntings and White-winged Crossbills can be seen in the surrounding areas.
Ravine Ecological Preserve, City of Yorkton Trail
Trail: The 2.8 km section of the City of Yorkton Trail that winds through the Ravine Ecological Preserve, circling a small lake and crossing over it on a short boardwalk, is a fantastic place to go bird watching along the Trans Canada Trail in Saskatchewan. Conveniently, this urban oasis is located in southwestern Yorkton, adjacent to the Gallagher Center, and the trail consists of easy-to-navigate footpaths, paved walkways, and a wooden boardwalk.
Description: The Ravine Ecological Preserve features a number of different habitats, including a small lake, a marsh, a wooded area, an arboretum with ornamental trees and shrubs, and the reclaimed Dulmage Farmstead, which is a municipal Heritage Site.
Birds: Over 123 species of birds have been observed in the Ravine Ecological Preserve, including spectacular waterfowl like Hooded Mergansers, Horned Grebes, and American White Pelicans. Shorebirds like Greater Yellowlegs and Spotted Sandpipers can be seen, as well as Sandhill Cranes and Great Blue Herons, Forster's Terns, Franklin's Gulls, and a wide variety of forest birds.
The Battlefords, Town of Battleford Trails
Trail: More than 8.4 km of paved cycling trails, footpaths, and pathways wind through Battleford and Battleford North, also known as The Battlefords. Specifically, the section of paved trail that begins at the Battlefords River Valley Visitor Center at the base of the King Hill Lookout, passing the Battlefords Goose Project and following a treed urban parkway along the shore of the North Saskatchewan River to Finlayson Island provides excellent opportunities for birding along the Trans Canada Trail in Saskatchewan.
This section of trail begins at the 127 acre wetland known as the Battlefords Goose Project, where bird watchers can see a variety of waterfowl from a flat, grassy track that features interpretive signs, and a tall wooden lookout tower that provides panoramic views over the marsh and surrounding landscape. Subsequently, the trail then follows a forested urban park that runs along the shores of the North Saskatchewan River, ending at Finlayson Island Nature Park, a small forested island in the river that features a network of walking paths in a natural treed environment.
Birds: The Battlefords Goose Project wetland provides a great opportunity to see a wide variety of waterfowl, including Common Goldeneyes, Blue-winged Teals, American Coots, Northern Shovelers and many other species. During the summer months, the forested river valley and Finlayson Island host a wide range of songbirds, such as Bohemian Waxwings, Yellow Warblers, Wilson's Warblers, Magnolia Warblers, and American Redstarts.
Good Spirit Lake Provincial Park, Good Spirit Lake Trail
Trail: Good Spirit Lake Provincial Park features 39 km of trails for hikers, cyclists, and birdwatchers in summer, and cross-country skiers and snowmobilers in winter. The Trans Canada Trail is a clearly marked, well-maintained grassy track that winds through the park's network of trails for around 18 km, visiting a variety of stunning natural habitats along the way, making it a fantastic place to go birding in Saskatchewan.
Description: The Trans Canada Trail in Good Spirit Lake Provincial Park takes hikers through beautiful forested areas, some of which are regenerating following a forest fire in 2020.It crosses open grassy meadows and marshes, winds along pristine white sandy beaches, and provides stunning views of towering sand dunes and the sparkling blue waters of Good Spirit Lake.
Birds: Over 165 bird species have been reported on eBird in Good Spirit Lake Provincial Park, including forest birds like Rose-breasted and Evening Grosbeaks, Cedar Waxwings, and Sharp-tailed Grouse. Further, raptors like Broad-winged, Ferrugenous, and Swainson's Hawks, and a wide variety of water birds have also been reported. In addition to birds, Good Spirit Lake Provincial Park is a great place to see foxes, coyotes, deer, moose, and elk.
There are many fantastic opportunities for bird and wildlife viewing in Saskatchewan in all seasons. These are five hidden gems we discovered while birding the Trans Canada Trail in Saskatchewan. If you enjoy stepping off the beaten path and exploring beyond the most popular bird watching hotspots, we encourage you check these beautiful parks and trails next time you go birding in Saskatchewan!
Birding Hotspots in Saskatchewan
Birdwatching Along The Trans Canada Trail
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Great blog post...and that cover photo - wow!
Great story Sonya. This will do well on search.
This is a well done Sonya. Enjoyed the photos and info. Thank you.
This was so informative. I especially liked how I could click through various photos for each area.