More than 100 000 birds descend on Chaplin, Saskatchewan, Canada every fall for breeding as well as a gathering site where they will prepare and rest for the long journey south for the winter. This might now sound that amazing until you see the sheer numbers of birds and variety of species that collect here starting in September.
This area has become so vital to the survival of songbird species, the area was designated as a Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network site in 1997. (For those who are like me, not an avid bird watcher, this is the highest reserve designation possible and is one of only five in Canada.) More than 30 species have been recorded in the area. In some instances, more than half of the entire population of a species can be found in the area at once. This brings forth scary thoughts especially when it comes to the large number of endangered species here such as the Piping Plover.
Four lakes (Chaplin, Reed, Old Wives, and Fredrick) are all within close proximity to each other make the area the ideal location for large bird populations. In fact, not far away is Cabri and the South Saskatchewan river. Here large numbers of bald eagles and geese nest every year.
The Chaplin Lake itself is a massive saltwater lake that literally sits in the middle of the prairie and the second largest in Canada. This lake not only attracted birds, however. A sodium sulphate also operates in the area a short distance away. It is easy to spot. The company uses the heat from the sun to evaporate the water and leave behind the crystal white mounds and streams that mar the area. It smells terrible, but it really is interesting to see.
These birds are truly remarkable, and with so many important species and rituals occurring in one place, it is also one of the most important locations in North American. Without this area, hundreds of species would be gone from this planet forever. If you would like additional information on the Chaplin area’s reserve, you can visit the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network or visit Saskatchewan Tourism.
(This post can now be found here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/saskatchewan/great-migration-shorebirds-endangered-species-chaplin-saskatchewan/)