Day 1 – Arrival in Saskatoon where we spend the night.
Day 2 - Today, our first full day in Saskatchewan, we'll travel east of Saskatoon to an area where Whooping Cranes are often found. Even if we don't find the 'big white birds', there will still be plenty of other goodies to look at including massive flocks of Snow Geese, with the other 4 goose species mixed in, as well as impressive numbers of Sandhill Cranes. Wetlands in this area hold many species of ducks and passerines could include Harris's Sparrows and Rusty Blackbirds. Night in Saskatoon.
Day 3 - We travel south end east to Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Refuge today, the site of North America's first wildlife refuge, which was created in 1887. The drive from Saskatoon to Last Mtn Lake takes us through an area of farm fields, excellent for groups of migrating geese and cranes. Wetlands are numerous here as well, so we should rack up an impressive list of waterfowl. Raptors can be fairly numerous in this area and include Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Merlin, and American Kestrel to name a few species. On our 2017 tour here, we had a Northern Shrike on our way to Last Mtn. Flocks of Lapland Longspurs, Horned Larks and American Pipits are abundant in this area, and most areas we visit. Once at Last Mountain Lake we'll explore the area around park headquarters where a shelter belt of trees often produces migrant passerines such as Orange-crowned and Yellow-rumped warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Am. Tree Sparrow, Harris's Sparrow and Cedar Waxwing to name just a few of the possibilities. We'll take the driving loop, checking the north end of the lake for birds like Great Blue Heron, Am. White Pelican, Western Grebe and late shroebirds such as Greater Yellowlegs, Black-bellied Plover and Pectoral Sandpiper. American Golden-Plovers are often noted in impressive numbers in this part of the world as well. From the top of the viewing platform we'll scan for Tundra Swans, American Avocets, and if we're really lucky perhaps Whooping Crane! Our 2017 group had great views of a Sharp-tailed Grouse here at Last Mtn. Night in Saskatoon.
Day 4 - This morning we'll head south of town to Blackstrap Reservoir, a large body of water that often has some different species of waterfowl such as White-winged and Surf scoters, Common Goldeneye, Red-necked Grebe and Redhead and Canvasback. The provincial park here is good for woodland species such as Blue Jay, Downy Woodpecker, 'Yellow-shafted' Northern Flickers, Harris's Sparrows and more. We'll then begin the journey back towards Saskatoon, but this time we'll continue north to Prince Albert where we'll spend the night. This evening we'll have the option to join local birders as they band owls, often catching Northern Saw-whet Owl, and sometimes Boreal Owl, Long-eared Owl and Barred Owls. Night in Prince Albert.
Day 5 - Today we'll head up to Prince Albert National Park, the nearest boreal forest habitat within reach of Saskatoon. Exploration of some of the roads and trails in the park should produce some excellent bird sightings such as Spruce Grouse, Ruffed Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, Gray Jay and Boreal Chickadee. In addition to the birds, we'll keep an eye open for mammals such as Moose. In the late afternoon, we'll head back towards Saskatoon for the night.
Day 6 - We'll leave this day open to follow up any leads on Whooping Crane sightings, just in case we have not yet found them. If we've already found the Whooping Cranes, we'll visit some areas not far from Saskatoon such as Pike Lake or the Forestry Farm Park. At the Forestry Farm Park, migrant passerines could include Hermit Thrush, Lincoln's Sparrow or a late warbler. On our 2017 tour we had a Blackpoll Warbler here. The tour will conclude late this afternoon.