With all the wildlife we spotted in February we weren't sure what to expect in March, but we hoped to see some early risers if the weather cooperated. Note that this post is for animals only since March birds are shown in the following posts: - Winter ...

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"Anita Mae Draper" - 5 new articles

  1. Wildlife Watch March
  2. Winter Bird Summary
  3. Migrating Bird Watch March
  4. Bird Judge
  5. Wildlife Watch February
  6. More Recent Articles

Wildlife Watch March



With all the wildlife we spotted in February we weren't sure what to expect in March, but we hoped to see some early risers if the weather cooperated. Note that this post is for animals only since March birds are shown in the following posts:

On the evening of March 8th we were within half a mile from home when we spotted a Moose browsing on the shrubby slough brush they love. With the fading light of an overcast day, we took a couple pics and left it munch. This was the only moose we saw in March 2018.


Moose, RM Montmartre, Saskatchewan, March 2018. Credit: Anita Mae Draper

A couple of days later I was out on the front stoop talking pics of the frosted trees when I spotted movement on the western ridge. Zooming in, I recognized the top half of a coyote heading south. He wasn't trotting as if he had someplace to go, but was walking slowly toward an area I'd seen ravens flying over the day before.


Coyote, RM Montmartre, Saskatchewan, March 2018. Credit: Anita Mae Draper

With Easter on the way, it seemed appropriate to catch a glimpse of a White-tailed Jackrabbit, still wearing his winter white coat. (Apparently Black-tailed Jackrabbits don't change their coat colour for winter.)


White-tailed Jackrabbit, Southeast Saskatchewan, March 2018. Credit: Nelson Draper

Nelson brought back some nice shots of a Red Fox on March 17. Apparently, he was up upwind of the fox because all the pics have the fox looking forward or down, but none looking in Nelson's direction.


Red Fox, Southeastern Saskatchewan, March 2018. Credit: Nelson Draper

I had my own Red Fox encounter, again from the front stoop of our house. I often step outside to see what's in the yard and on March 24th I was taking pics of dark snow clouds when I spotted something halfway up the western ridge. I zoomed in and saw two foxes, one larger than the other. They were walking, but then the bigger one in front looked back and suddenly the smaller one ducked down into a low spot. This image was taken at 5:16 pm.


Red Fox, RM Montmartre, Saskatchewan, March 2018. Credit: Anita Mae Draper

The weather was light blowing snow under heavy cloud cover. As I watched the foxes, they curled into sleeping position with their heads tucked in and only the tips of their ears showing. I went into the house but checked back frequently to see if they were still there. 


Red Fox, RM Montmartre, Saskatchewan, March 2018. Credit: Anita Mae Draper

At 6:50 pm I saw the foxes walking away. Their behaviour seemed strange at first, until I remembered other fox encounters where they would sit and pose, and then lie down as we took wonderful photos of them. The latest such opportunity was last month in the post, Wildlife Watch February


Prairie Dogs came out to play in March. My first sighting was on the 18th as I zipped down Highway 48 and spotted a little creature on a high snowbank. A snowmobile rally was going on at the time, but the snow machines had veered off and were gathered in a field a few hundred feet from the prairie dog's location. Perhaps with spring approaching their noise had awoken it from hibernation? Since I didn't want the guys to think I was taking pics of them, I carried on down the road wishing I wasn't such a chicken. Lo and behold, I spotted another prairie dog just a few miles further which is the one you see in this picture. By the way, if you recognize this guy, he's the model for my Happy Spring Instagram post



Prairie Dog, RM Montmartre, Saskatchewan, March 2018. Credit: Anita Mae Draper

A week later we were driving back from church when Nelson pointed out a prairie dog poking its head up from a snowbank in the roadside ditch. As I zoomed in, I was surprised to see its wet face as if he'd just tunneled through the snow - a first for me. When I submitted this prairie dog image to the iNaturalist.ca site, it was confirmed as a Richardson's Ground Squirrel, quite common on the prairies. This image made me think of the shark from the movie, Jaws, so I used it as the model for another Instagram post.



Richardson's Ground Squirrel, RM Montmartre, SK, March 2018. Credit: Anita Mae Draper

On March 17, Nelson was seeing the pink hues of a sunrise instead of kelly-green when he spotted these White-tailed Deer with their tails waving good-bye.


White-tailed Deer, Southeast Saskatchewan, March 2018. Credit: Nelson Draper

Three days later, Nelson caught another batch of White-tailed Deer in a scenic stubble field. White-tailed deer have a brown tail when it's down and only shows the white underside when it's running, after it's been alerted to danger.


White-tailed Deer, Southeast Saskatchewan, March 2018. Credit: Nelson Draper

Both White-tailed Deer and Mule Deer have white rumps, however the tails of Mule deer are white with a dark tip, as if they've been dipped in paint, like this next image:

Mule Deer on Snowy Day, Southeast Saskatchewan, March 2018. Credit: Nelson Draper

Nelson took this next photo on March 14 which clearly shows a white rump, but no white tail sticking up. That tells me they are Mule Deer.

Mule Deer at Dawn, Southeast Saskatchewan, March 2018. Credit: Nelson Draper

Nelson knows they are Mule Deer because he looks at their huge mule-like ears. Sometimes that's a give-away for me too, like this photo Nelson took on March 31st. 

Mule Deer, Southeast Saskatchewan, March 2018. Credit: Nelson Draper

We'll finish this post with a Common Raccoon that Nelson spotted on March 29th as the month neared its beastly end. The raccoon was moving fast and we've cropped this photo as much as we can before it loses definition, but you can still make out the ringed tail. 

Raccoon on the Run, Southeast Saskatchewan, March 2018. Credit: Nelson Draper

Nelson had another raccoon encounter in May, so we'll be posting those images soon.

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Pins of the above photos can be found on our Pinterest board:
Photos: Wildlife

    

Winter Bird Summary



This post is a summary of the winter birds photographed by us in March 2018 and since it was a late spring this year, we still had lots of snow.

Midmonth as I was heading home after a trip to town, I spotted a Sharp-tailed Grouse high in a stand of trees. I pulled over and shut the car off since there wasn't any traffic and I didn't want to scare the sharpie away. With my window down I managed to get some excellent images and video.


Sharp-tailed Grouse, RM Montmartre, SK, Mar 2018. Source: Anita Mae Draper
Once the sharpie got used to my quiet presence, it proceeded to eat the tree's buds. I don't know what type of tree it is, although aspen comes to mind. In this position, the sharpie reminded me of a dinosaur, so it got my imagination going - I mean, you show a writer something unusual and the creative juices flow. 

Sharp-tailed Grouse, RM Montmartre, SK, Mar 2018. Source: Anita Mae Draper

After a few minutes, the first sharpie was joined by a second one, which must have been hiding nearby. Soon after, they both flew away.

On a frosty morning on March 14th I was out taking pics of the rising sun which was just coming up at the end of our long driveway when I had the impression that something was sneaking up behind me. I turned to find small birds at the top of the power pole which is located in what we call the island in the centre of our farmyard. 


Snow Buntings, RM Montmartre, SK, Mar 2018. Source: Anita Mae Draper

I had never seen Snow Buntings this close as they generally fly in large roadside flocks like Horned Larks, but that's what came to mind as I stared up at them. They stayed for several minutes as I snapped some shots of them, and then turned to take pics of the sun, then back at the birds, then back at the sun, etc. As soon as I got inside I confirmed these birds are indeed Snow Buntings. What a treasure!


Snow Buntings, RM Montmartre, SK, Mar 2018. Source: Anita Mae Draper

For the first time ever, I noticed Horned Larks in our farmyard pecking under the feeder where the Redpolls glean. We were in the afternoon throes of a winter blizzard at the time and I believe they didn't realize where they had strayed. 


Horned Lark, RM Montmartre, SK, Mar 2018. Source: Anita Mae Draper

Downy Woodpeckers were seen throughout March, although the female was sighted thrice as much as the male which has a red patch on the back of his head.


Downy Woodpecker, RM Montmartre, SK, Mar 2018. Source: Anita Mae Draper

Near the end of the month, the female discovered the peanut wreath and spent several minutes pecking away. I'm not sure why she didn't like it, or perhaps she assumed all the shells were empty, but I didn't see her at it again. 


Downy Woodpecker, RM Montmartre, SK, Mar 2018. Source: Anita Mae Draper

The Ravens are still hanging around and seem to have paired off as I saw 2 pairs on opposite ends of our quarter. One pair seems to have settled in the slough to the south because I heard - for the first time ever - the distinct sound the female makes when she's in her nesting stage. 



Common Ravens, RM Montmartre, SK, Mar 2018. Source: Anita Mae Draper

The Black-billed Magpie only visited to snatch pieces of the Ancient Grains Tortillas we'd put out. Once the tortillas were gone, so was the magpie. 


Black-billed Magpie, RM Montmartre, SK, Mar 2018. Source: Anita Mae Draper

Throughout the month Black-capped Chickadees continued to hide their seeds one day, and go look for them on another day. As I've tried to show what seed they were eating, I'll show this one taken on a very frosty morning where the chickadee searched among the branches, darting out of the way before it got caught beneath a shower of rime. 


Black-capped Chickadee, RM Montmartre, SK, Mar 2018. Source: Anita Mae Draper

Nelson was in the right place to capture these Grey Partridge at dawn on the 17th. Also called Hungarian Partridge, there were only a few in the flock but they looked stellar in the morning rays.

Grey Partridge, Southeast Saskatchewan, Mar 2018. Source: Nelson Draper

On March 20th Nelson spotted a Snowy Owl on a power pole but it took to flight as he approached and then settled in a nearby field. This ended up being our last Snowy Owl sighting of the season. 


Snowy Owl, Southeast Saskatchewan, Mar 2018. Source: Nelson Draper

Redpolls and House Sparrows made up the last of the feathered blessings we witnessed in March 2018. Photos for both of these birds can be found on the previous two posts.

Pins for most of these birds can be found on our Pinterest board Photos: Birds.



    

Migrating Bird Watch March



We were blessed to see so many birds in March that we've created a separate post for migrating and new birds. Although we're experiencing an extremely slow spring thaw, migrating birds are showing up, albeit in much fewer quantities. 

The first migrating bird sighting of the season was on March 16th as I headed toward Francis, SK. My head swiveled from side-to-side to catch any dark spot on the sea of snow. And then I saw it - the long neck of a Canada Goose. All alone, it sat on the snow-covered field a short distance from an equally covered slough. I didn't see its mate anywhere, which left me wondering if it was injured and had fallen behind the flock. 


Canada Goose, RM Montmartre, SK, Mar 2018. Credit: Anita Mae Draper

In case you can't see it in the middle of the above photo, here's a close up...


Canada Goose, RM Montmartre, SK, Mar 2018. Credit: Anita Mae Draper

A few hours later I was on my way home and heard loud honking through my car window. Slowing, I opened my window and caught this Canada goose flapping and honking in a frenzy. I was a miles west of where I'd spotted the lone goose earlier and this one was headed in that direction. I have no idea if this was the mate, but clearly it was in panic mode. I stopped for photos a few times along my route and by the time I passed the stop I'd seen the first Canada Goose of the season earlier, the field was empty. 


Canada Goose, RM Francis, SK, Mar 2018. Credit: Anita Mae Draper

On the same stretch of road, I spotted the first Western Meadowlark of the season! I hadn't expected to find a meadowlark ploughing through a snow-covered ditch and so it caught me by surprise as I drove past. After turning around, I drove slowly back, past the way I'd come, to see if I really had seen one. The ditch was empty. Yet still hoping, I pulled to the side of the road and waited with the window down. And then I saw it on a bare patch of ground, striding back and forth and calling out. I've never heard one call before and was left with the impression that it had crash-landed in the snowbank and was now letting the others know where it was. No melodious singing for this meadowlark on this day. 


Western Meadowlark, RM Francis, SK, Mar 2018. Credit: Anita Mae Draper

The next day was St. Patrick's day, which I don't celebrate because I'm Scotch and Finnish, but I was having a party at the end of the day after spotting a new bird to add to my Life List. You see, while doing dishes, I noticed the sparrows hiding in the big poplar tree. When the sparrows aren't sleeping in the barn loft, they're hanging around the mixed bird feeder near the cotoneaster or potentilla bushes. When new birds visit, the sparrows go on guard duty around the yard. The only time they hide together in the big trees is when danger lurks. Since I couldn't see an intruder from the window, I went outside and looked around. Suddenly, the sparrows all flew behind the house. A few seconds later they all flew back in a rush and spread into the shelterbelt. 

Before I could blink, a small hawk sailed in low from behind the house and flew out of the yard past the hedgerow before it perched in the high branches of the trees at the end of the driveway. I raised my camera and got off a few shots without making out the species due to the  extreme low light level of the overcast day. I was quite surprised then, when I uploaded the images to my computer and realized I was looking at a Merlin - my first ever sighting, and one for my Bird Life List. 


Merlin, RM Montmartre, SK, Mar 2018. Credit: Anita Mae Draper

A week later while on our way to church, Nelson spotted a large bird of prey sitting in a group of trees alongside the road. Although it looked like a hawk, its beak confirmed it was an eagle. It pointedly ignored us for over a minute before flying past our car. 


Bald Eagle, RM Montmartre, SK, Mar 2018. Credit: Anita Mae Draper

Not going far, it landed in a nearby group of trees where I continued by photo shoot. This isn't our first Bald Eagle sighting of the year, but this young one is the closest capture of 2018.

Bald Eagle, RM Montmartre, SK, Mar 2018. Credit: Anita Mae Draper

On Mar 29th I was going through the bird pics of the day when this next image caught my attention. I added my signature and was about to file it with the other pics of Redpolls when I spotted the thick beak. Redpolls have fine yellow and black beaks, not thick finch-like ones. 


House Finch, RM Montmartre, SK, Mar 2018. Credit: Anita Mae Draper

I took a closer look at the other photos for the day and when I saw this next one I clicked on my bird identification app and pulled up finches. Sure enough, our visitors of the day were House Finches. 


House Finch, RM Montmartre, SK, Mar 2018. Credit: Anita Mae Draper

House finches have a greyish-brown cap with red around it, whereas redpolls have a red cap. The following photo clearly shows the red cap of one of the Redpolls which wintered here this year. You can also see the different beak styles, as well as the breast markings. 

Common Redpoll, RM Montmartre, SK, Mar 2018. Credit: Anita Mae Draper

Although Southeastern Saskatchewan is known to have Ring-necked Pheasants year-round, they usually stay close to the USA border where they are North Dakota's state bird. Nelson thought he was seeing things on March 17th when he spotted one, but then it disappeared into the bush. He took pictures of the area anyway. Good thing, too, because once the image was uploaded to the computer we spotted the tail sticking out of the ditch where the pheasant had taken refuge. 

Ring-necked Pheasant Tail, Southeast Saskatchewan, Mar 2018. Credit: Nelson Draper

Closer inspection showed the pheasant hiding behind the brush where he was almost camouflaged into obscurity. Gotcha! 

Ring-necked Pheasant Camouflaged, Southeast Saskatchewan, Mar 2018. Credit: Nelson Draper

Pins on most of the above images can be found on our Pinterest board Photos: Birds

    

Bird Judge




This image can also be found as a vertical pin on my Pinterest board: Photos: Birds
    

Wildlife Watch February



February 2018 started off with cold temps in the minus 20's to 30's and stayed that way until the final week of the month. The hope was that we'd get over the cold stuff and begin to enjoy warmer days. The cold temps also meant there wasn't much variation in the wildlife we see in our area. In fact, we didn't see anything other than birds until mid-month.

On Feb 17, Nelson spotted a Red Fox travelling in a stubble field. Nelson pulled over and grabbed his camera. The fox stopped as well and looked around. 

Red Fox, Southeastern Saskatchewan, Feb 2018. Credit: Nelson Draper

And then the fox lay down and closed its eyes. Of course, this allowed Nelson to get some really great shots of a Red Fox,. It seemed unusual behaviour, but then I remembered last November when another Red Fox stopped to pose as our vehicle approached it. We'll post on this behaviour as we catch sight - hopefully more - of these beautiful creatures. 


Red Fox, Southeastern Saskatchewan, Feb 2018. Credit: Nelson Draper

A week later, we had just left home for church and as we crested the first hill we spotted a coyote running across the field. There we were on the hill, with the sight of our house behind us, and a coyote to our 10 o'clock, which meant he wasn't a half mile from our house. I zoomed in to get the shot, and then had to crop it further to get this grainy image.


Coyote, RM Montmartre, SK, Feb 2018. Credit: Anita Mae Draper

On the same day, we spotted four Mule Deer while driving home after church. This first image appears to show a healthy, pregnant doe.


Mule Deer, RM 125 Chester, SK, Feb 2018. Credit: Anita Mae Draper

Within the same herd, there is a marked difference in the hair texture between her and the two in the next image, although I don't know if it's due to age, wind, or health, but these two have a scruffy look. I'm thinking they're younger because they don't have the elegance of the first doe, although all appear pregnant and/or well fed.


Mule Deer, RM 125 Chester, SK, Feb 2018. Credit: Anita Mae Draper

On the final day of February, Nelson spotted this Moose crossing the road ahead of him and had time to pull over while it lumbered into the bush. He captured this shot of the young bull who was wary, but didn't rush headlong into the cover like some do.


Moose, Southeastern Saskatchewan, Feb 2018. Credit: Nelson Draper

As Nelson zoomed in, he caught sight of the protruding antler buds and took this great shot. This is the first time we've captured a bull moose at this stage of life.


Moose, Southeastern Saskatchewan, Feb 2018. Credit: Nelson Draper

If you would like to be kept informed by email of new Draper's Acres blogposts, leave your email address in the "Subscribe Me" box in the right hand column of this page. 

Images and Pins of the above photos and more of the wildlife we saw in February can be found on our Pinterest boards:
Photos: Birds 

    

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