reed lake   7 comments

Posted at 8:15 am in Uncategorized


At 10,000 acres Reed Lake is one of several large, shallow, saline lakes along the TransCanada highway, between Chaplin and Swift Current, Saskatchewan.  It is an important resting and feeding place for migrating birds that spend summer on the Prairies or further north in the Arctic.

 During my round trip crossings of the Prairies each spring and autumn, I have stopped at Reed Lake hoping to catch the migration of Snow Geese, Tundra Swans and other water and shorebirds.  Each time, I was either a little early or late, or the weather had been unusually cold and the lake was iced over.  However, on this crossing, I was fortunate to be passing by in the late afternoon on a day when there were many birds down for the night.


I stopped, mainly to rest, as I had driven through from Brandon on my way to Swift Current.  Although I had packed my field scope, i was feeling a little too weary to drag it out.  Instead, I took my binoculars and climbed the stairs of the observation platform.  There was a well-trodden path to the water’s edge, but with the birds looking peacefully settled in for the night, I did not wish to approach too closely and stayed well back from their comfort zone.  That was close enough to watch the gathered flocks swim, feed and socialize.  Most were Snow Geese, but there were a few dozen of what must have been Tundra Swans, judging by their very straight necks.    Periodically, I could see dense flocks of smaller birds rising up and flying like a wave over the shallows on the far (south) side of the lake.  Unfortunately, the distance was just too great for my eyes and binoculars, so I could not identify them beyond saying that they were shorebirds of some kind.  The camera gear I use is mainly for macro photography, so my photos just give an impression of the place.  You will have to imagine the great gathering of birds for yourselves.


What I enjoy almost more than watching large gatherings of birds is listening to them when the are down and feeding.  There is a loud but peaceful quality to the tumult of voices.  I’ve heard it with the Sandhill Cranes at Whitewater Draw in southeast Arizona where they (and I) overwintering.  Also with the Western Grebes in the Malheur Refuge of south-central Oregon, and the Ibis, Egrets, White Pelicans and many others at Tule Lake in northern California.  It is such a joyful, soothing sound.  One to which I could listen for many hours.  

After a break, I drove the last stretch on to Swift Current to spend the night at a motel.  Last year, While in that area, I camped at Grasslands National Park and Buffalo Pound Provincial Park, but was several weeks earlier in the season.  Being later, this trip has been a little different as I am having to pay more attention to the weather.  Fortunately, this has been an unusually warm, dry autumn, but as the days march on, I realize that it would be foolish to plan the remainder of the trip depending on luck.



Written by bev wigney on October 26th, 2010

7 Responses to 'reed lake'

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  1. yes, it would be unwise to depend on luck in this unpredictable climate the entire country has endured for months. yesterday/last night there was a rather heavy snowfall which continues about 80 mins northeast of us and another lighter snowfall 40-50 mins east of us. both are higher elevation than we are at the foothills of the cascades, but neither is extremely high and both seem early snowfalls to me. while it is 43 degrees here, when combined with drenching rain even that “feels” pretty cold. hope you find some interesting areas in your exploration and get some great photos so we can enjoy your trip with you!


    26 Oct 10 at 10:20 am

  2. Oh yes, as Sky mentions, the weather has definitely taken a turn toward COLD! This morning we had our first signs of a ground frost. Following the weather reports will be a good way to travel now. We’re expecting more rain here at the end of the week, and with these colder temps that’s going to mean snow at the higher elevations. Be safe out there, Bev.

    Absolutely love these photos, Bev. What a beautiful lake and great timing to see all the birds there. I’m so glad you didn’t go down to get a closer shot. They need their peace and quiet time too. Really so kind and good-hearted of you to just let them be.

    robin andrea

    26 Oct 10 at 10:32 am

  3. I also love the sounds of the birds as they feed and even more when they take off sometimes all at once flying overhead. It seems so primal


    26 Oct 10 at 12:27 pm

  4. Snow Geese and Tundra Swans….. I can almost hear them, and what a splendid music they make (sigh).


    26 Oct 10 at 3:45 pm

  5. How beautiful this is, wish I had been there to enjoy it with you Bev, thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Kathy Demarest

    27 Oct 10 at 6:26 am

  6. Bev, I hope you either got south of the storms or are holed up somewhere safe and warm. Just watching the news, weather doesn’t look quite as sunny as in your lovely pics. I love seeing large flocks of birds, like you say, there’s a certain sound they make that’s rather soothing, like something primal.


    27 Oct 10 at 7:42 am

  7. I see that Robin Andrea already made the observation about your tenderness toward the birds. I’d already copied your statement when I read her comment:

    ” . . but with the birds looking peacefully settled in for the night, I did not wish to approach too closely and stayed well back from their comfort zone.”

    Yes. Lovely Bev.

    I’ve not been to Michigan for a couple years to hear the cranes. It’s time to go again. I so agree with you. There is something so serene, so reassuring about that calling

    I wonder where you were when the front slammed through the midwest here. I’ll be anxious to hear what you experienced.

    Take care.


    27 Oct 10 at 2:58 pm

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