Northern grasslands dry

Written by Phil Thorpe
Sunday, May 16, 2010

Photo of Phil Thorpe. We’ve left the good to excellent wetland conditions of the southern grasslands behind us and we are now surveying the very dry northern grasslands around Kindersley in western SK. Very few natural wetlands have water left in their basins and we have observed many dugouts (i.e., stock ponds) that are dry. In contrast, the glaciated region called the Allan Hills southeast of Saskatoon has good to excellent conditions for nesting and brood rearing. The area contains a high density of wetlands and you can easily find 100 wetlands (potholes) per square mile here. This is a fun area to survey because of the diversity of ducks and the number of ponds and ducks to count; conversation between the pilot and the observer quickly ceases because of the workload of species identification and recording.

Glaciated area with high wetland densities southeast of Saskatoon.

Glaciated area with high wetland densities southeast of Saskatoon. Credit: P. Thorpe (USFWS)

Dry basin in the northwestern grasslands 20 miles north of Kindersley.

Dry basin in the northwestern grasslands 20 miles north of Kindersley. Credit: P. Thorpe (USFWS)

Many of the larger water bodies in the northwestern grasslands were dry.

Many of the larger water bodies in the northwestern grasslands were dry. Credit: P. Thorpe (USFWS)

Farm dugouts provide habitat for ducks during drought periods.  Near Kindersley.

Farm dugouts provide habitat for ducks during drought periods. Near Kindersley. Credit: P. Thorpe (USFWS)