Earlier, a sampling of the wild animals making a home in the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area were spotlighted at Saskatoon’s Semi Wilderness Urban Forest.
Here is another round of amazing forest and wetlands creatures that can be spotted within the City of Saskatoon city limits at the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and the West Swale Wetlands.
In this collage, the top north west image is a Red-Winged Blackbird (Agelaius Phoeniceus) about 7-9 inches high (18-24 cm), so smaller than a Robin. Robins mesure 9-11 inches (23-28 cm). This image of a Red-Winged Blackbird portrays a striking figure with bright red epaulets with a yellow margin. The female red-winged blackbird is quite the opposite in colouring, with brown mottling and a white stripe above the eye, her colouring enabling her to blend in with the wetlands flora.
Going around the montage clockwise, a White-tail deer fawn(Odocoileus virginianus), snuggles down in in the riparian forest, hiding in the deep grass or within cover of the underbrush. The fawns are born in late April, and sometimes as late as the beginning of July. The spotted coat, enables the fawn to conceal itself within the environment, and these spots disappear about the end of October.
Next; clockwise, in the top north east corner is a garter snake. The three species of Garter Snakes most likely to be seen in the province are; Western Terrestrial Garter Snake or Wandering Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans), the very colourful Plains Garter Snake, (Thamnophis radix) and the Common (red-sided) Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis). They can be between 17.7 to 38 inches (45 – 97 cm) in length. The colouring is a dark brown or black with distinctive yellow, orange or red stripes. The best times to see them may be in the early morning sun tanning in the summer months.
Now, continuing clockwise, in the south east corner is a Black Crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax ). All About Birds has recordings of the barking squack, and the woc-a-woc calls made by these Herons. To see three Black Crowned Night Herons at dusk coming in to feed in the West Swale wetlands is truly a treat, as this area is at the northern extent of their range in Saskatchewan. This heron is quite common, however, as it roosts hidden in trees, and forages in the wetlands at dusk it is a true wonder to behold them. This short, stocky heron is about 23-28 inches (58-70 cm) is quite different from the much taller and leggier Great Blue Heron 42-52 inches (105-130 cm). Keep your eyes open at dusk to spot the Black Crowned Night Heron.
Flying overhead, the Mallard (Anas Platrhynchos), marsh duck is quite striking with dark chest, a lighter coloured underbelly, and a white neck ring. Swimming in the wetlands, the male Mallard, known as a dabbling duck, has a distinctive green head with white neck ring, a reddish chest, white and black tail feathers emerge under mottled brown wings and there is a blue speculum. However, in the photo above are the young of the Mallard, distinctive yellowish feathers with the dark eye stripe. The female Mallard is brown mottled and retains the dark eye stripe. The duck quack heard from Mallard’s will be from the female, as the males do not quack at all. It is important not to feed the waterfowl at the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area.
The last image is the rabbit. The White-Tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii) is much larger than the Snowshoe Hare (Lepus Americanus). The Snowshoe Hare has longer legs and longer ears than their cousins, the rabbits. Both change the colour of their coats from white in the winter months to brown in the summer. Whereas, the White-Tailed Jackrabbits love the open grasslands because of their speed, these are the most widely distributed around the city. The very tip of the ear on a Jackrabbit will stay black year-round. The Jackrabbit will measure 22 to 26 inches (56-65 cm) when fully grown. The Snoeshow Hares much prefer Aspen parkland and forested areas.
“The uncultivated elements of the landscape…have an important ecological function as a habitat for species that cannot survive in cultivated land and as a corridor.(Burel:Page 187) Greenways, green belts, and corridors are all very similar. The city of New Brunswick and the Lower Raritan Watershed Partership actively seek out volunteers for digging, planting and maintenance of their Green Infrastructure Landscape Corridor Concept. The Province of Ontario protects two million acres (800,000) hectares of land for a greenbelt including the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation plan, the Niagara Escarpment plan, and the Protected Countryside in the Golden Horseshoe Area.
Such green belts protect a rural character within a growing urban city, ensuring urban dwellers have access to natural areas. These Greenspaces serve as contiguous wildlife habitat corridors nurturing plants, and animals of both woodland and wetland.
IT would be fantastic to find a way that our environment could be shared by stakeholders seeking recreation so as to protect the habitat, and ecosystem, the geological and historical features within the boundaries of the Greenway.
“The water crisis is at our door here in Canada. All the issues we thought so far away are up on us now. A greater challenge has never faced the people of Canada. Each and every one of us has a personal responsibility to take action, to collectively confront the very power structures that have prevented the change needed to protect and honour the great water heritage of this land.” ~Barlow, Maude.
“Water is speaking to us but are we listening?
We are all treaty people ~ a piece of us is dying.
Complacency and ignorance are no longer acceptable.
We have to be the voice for generations to come.
Our grandchildren will look back and ask, Why did
they not act to save our precious water? I want to
be able to look in the mirror and know that I
did my best.”
~Randall Kahgee, former chief, Saugeen First Nation.Barlow
“I believed that God has lent us the Earth. It belongs as much to those who come after us as to us, and it ill behooves us by anything we do or neglect, to deprive them of benefits which are in our power to bequeath.”
~Richard St. Barbe Baker
Barlow, Maude. Boiling Point. Government Neglect, Corporate Abuse and Canada’s Water Crisis. ECW Press. 2016. Toronto, ON. ISBN 978-1-77041355-9 paperback ISBN 78-1-77090-918-9 (PDF) osbn 978-1-77090-947-2 (epub)
Peterson, Roger Tory. Western Birds. 1990. Houghton Mifflin Company Massachusetts. ISBN 0-395-51749-4 ISBN 0-395-51424-X pbk.
Sibley, David Allen. The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America. Chanticleer Press, Inc. New York. 2003. isbn 0-679-45121-8.
For more information:
Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, SK, CA north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city.
Wikimapia Map: type in Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Google Maps South West Off Leash area location pin at parking lot
Web page: https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com
Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map
Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Facebook: South West OLRA
Contact the MVA The MVA has begun a Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund. If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund (MVA RSBBAA trust fund)” .
Twitter: St Barbe Baker