Sunday, February 1, 2009

Trip Report - Thanksgiving 2008

Our most recent birding trip. We don't often take trips during winter, so figured this would be the last one for a while. Sightings are light, partly because of the time of year, and weather during the weekend, partly because I'm relying on memory here!

Plan: Drive around Westman.

Destinations: Oak Lake, Virden, Whitewater Lake

Weather forecast: Cloudy and/or rainy

Day 1 (October 10) Winnipeg to Brandon: Didn't leave Winnipeg til mid afternoon. Took the road north of Assiniboia Downs to get out of town. Some nice fall color to be seen. Weather remains cloudy, but patches of blue sky are seen, so optimism is high! Surely it wouldn't be cloudy for three whole days!

Farmland, north of Headingley, October 10, 2008

Clouds and farmland along Number 1 Highway, October 10, 2008

Oops! Rather than heading right back out on the roads after getting to Brandon, shopping and supper took up the rest of the daylight. Hoping for greater motivation tomorrow!

Day two (Brandon to Souris to Oak Lake to Souris): Oops! Slept in (way in!) and didn't leave town til mid afternoon again. Headed for Oak Lake, conditions still cloudy. Still some fall color to be seen around here as well.

Trees, Oak Lake, October 11, 2008

Distracted by a small group of horses - thought this was one was the prettiest!

Horse in pasture, Oak Lake, October 11, 2008

Not many birds to be seen, and evening approaching quickly. Got to the first marsh along PR254. Lots of birds in the water, but too dark for ID. White bird-shaped blobs, pelicans? Snow Geese? Swans? Made it to the resort and took some photos of the lake. Better luck tomorrow?

Oak Lake, October 11, 2008

Day Three (Souris to Oak Lake to Virden to Coulter to Whitewater Lake to Souris): Weather has changed. No longer cloudy. Now rainy. Determination remains high, however! Goal: head back to Oak Lake to identify our white bird-shaped blobs. First, town security watched us leave.

Wild Turkeys in Souris, October 12, 2008

Daylight (of a sort) showed us some of the color we missed the night before.

Farmland, Oak Lake, October 12, 2008

A mammal sighting! We usually see many more birds than mammals on these trips, this one has been close to an exception! (Pardon the barbed wire)

Coyote, Oak Lake, October 12, 2008

Made it to the marsh! Our birds are swans! Rain increasing, visibility decreasing, but non-goose like necks are apparent, even in long-distance, no-light, blurry-as-all-get-out photos.

Tundra Swans and unidentified ducks, Oak Lake, October 12, 2008

Flocks of Snow Geese were seen on the way out from Oak Lake, most uncharacteristically not concerned with our presence.

Snow Geese, Oak Lake, October 12, 2008

Leaving Virden produced more flocks of Snow Geese (Click on photo to enlarge)

Snow Geese, Virden, October 12, 2008

And some other birds. "What are those?" "Canada Geese." "No, they're not..."

Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes, Virden, October 12, 2008

I'd only seen Sandhill Cranes a few other times, with the greatest number at once being around six. This was amazing! (Click on photo to enlarge)

Sandhill Cranes, Virden, October 12, 2008

Photos aren't the clearest, but for these shots, I kind of like the misty, dreamy effect.

Travelled to Coulter, Sourisford and Waskada. Animal sightings were short, but lots to see, including grain elevators and burial mounds. We did add Horned Lark and Ring-Necked Pheasant. On to Deloraine and Whitewater Lake!

Distracted by a misty cow...

Cow on pasture, Deloraine, October 12, 2008

And some misty horses...

Horses at pasture, Deloraine, October 12, 2008

The road was A-W-F-U-L. It had been raining all day, and the car was struggling! The roads to Whitewater Lake are often difficult, but on this day, they were impassable for our poor little Volvo. Shortly after this photo, we turned around and almost got stuck. This was taken as a sign that it was time to head back!

The Snow Geese around Whitewater Lake are much more suspicious of people and cars.

Snow Geese, Deloraine, October 12, 2008

Final bird tally not available (no list created at time of trip, and memory prone to failure). A good time was had by all!

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