Welcome To RDL*
Our Little Corner Of Saskatchewan, Canada
*We informally refer to our property as Ruddy Duck Lodge (RDL)
due to the number of ruddy ducks that usually nest on the ponds.
We own 400 acres (162 ha) of marginal agricultural land on the southern edge of the Boreal Transition Ecoregion of Saskatchewan in the ecodistrict landscape area known as the Tiger Hills Upland (G15). The terrain in the immediate vicinity is generally a series of small abrupt hills (hummocks/knobs) and depressions (potholes/kettles) surrounded by more level areas of land. A thin layer of organic soil covers thick deposits of unsorted glacial till with pockets of gray loam, clay and gravel. Rocks are numerous and reach the size of car-sized boulders. Lakes and wetlands abound in the region making it an important staging and breeding area for waterfowl and shorebirds. There are also numerous rivers and streams that form part of the Carrot River Watershed. Prior to settlement the vegetation was a mixed forest dominated by trembling aspen and, to a lesser extent, balsam poplar and birch with localised conifer stands and grassy clearings. With the arrival of European settlers much of the land was cleared for agriculture with large tracts now under cultivation for cereal and oilseeds production. These fields are interspersed with alfalfa/hay and grazing lands for cattle.
RDL consists of approximately 140 acres (57 ha) of bush made up of trembling aspen, balsam poplar and white birch with an understory of hazelnut and other wood land shrubs and plants. There are about 130 acres (53 ha) of alfalfa/hay and unused overgrown pasture. Many of the hills in the hayland are sparsely vegetated exposing the light clay soil. The remainder is made up of numerous wetlands including the main pond that currently covers 110 acres (45 ha) and is about 6 feet (2 m) deep. There are also two temporary streams and a number of apparent hillside water seeps found on the property.
Map of RDL
Clicking on the white arrrows within the map will provide views of the property's various habitats at
different times of the year. You do have to remember to close each new window for things to work properly.
One of the key features of RDL is the trembling aspen/balsam poplar forest. Most bush in the area is used for grazing cattle and often it is overgrazed which soon eliminates the undergrowth and leaves behind old trees and a denuded forest floor invaded by grasses. The bush at RDL has not been grazed for many decades which has enabled a more natural succession of mixed aged trees from young saplings to mature trees. The lack of grazing disturbance has also allowed a rich understory of shrubs and other woodland herbaceous plants, mosses and fungi to develop. In turn this forest attracts a wide variety of animals, birds and insects to the land.
A second focal point of RDL is the series of wetlands that range from the 100 acre plus main pond to smaller semipermanent wetlands with wet phases lasting a few years and temporary pools that last just a few weeks after spring runoff. Some of the more permanent wetlands undoubtedly will be aestival (freezing to the bottom during winter) while others are deep enough that they do not freeze to the bottom. This wetland assemblage provides habitats for a number of animals and birds as well as a rich diversity of aquatic macroinvertebrates and plant species.
RDL is in a region of Saskatchewan that has experienced higher than normal snowfall accumulation and rainfall since 2010. This is in stark contrast to the severe drought conditions that occurred during 2000 to 2002. The recent high precipitation amounts have translated into elevated water levels for all the water bodies and substantial flooding of agricultural lands in the area. Flooding at RDL has resulted in die off of many willows and poplar trees that ring the wetlands. It has also reduced the drawdown areas for shore birds to feed and limited their presence on many of the wetlands. However, the high water levels have allowed beaver and muskrats to inhabit more wetlands on the property and have enabled fathead minnows to successfully invade the largest ponds. The fish have, in turn, attracted birds such as double crested cormorants, pelicans, herons, grebes and kingfishers.
Recent Images from RDL
Research at RDL
A rich biodiversity of native plants and animals is a corner stone of ecosystem health and provides stability from both human caused impacts and extraordinary natural events. Studying biodiversity and community structure provides valuable baseline information related to land use and climate change impacts and invasive species threats. As RDL lies near the southern edge of the Boreal Transition Ecoregion there are faunal and floral elements from the boreal forests, aspen parklands and grasslands. Survey research is continuing on a number of fronts to document the species present at RDL. The list of recorded and potentially occurring species, detailed in the links menu to the left, totals well over 600 species including the following:
- ~25 Mammals
- 160+ birds
- 1 Fish
- 1 Reptile
- 3 Amphibians
- 150+? Terrestrial Insects (Non-butterflies)
- ~50 Butterflies
- ~160 Aquatic Insects
- 30+? Spiders
- ~7 Leeches
- ~10 Snails and Clams
- ~100 Native and Introduced Plants
- 20+? Lichens
- 30+? Fungi
- 10? Bryophytes
Downloadable pdf's of selected species lists are available below:
As the species lists are compiled and verified they will be used to supplement provincial taxonomic and biogeographical information. The lists will also form the basis for future research related to community composition, structure and functioning of the various habitats present at RDL and for comparisons with other research throughout the province and Canada.
Native plant survey and seed collection:
As part of a plant survey conducted by Dr. Richard St. Pierre, of Prairie Elements, a number of native plant seed samples were prepared and deposited in Canada's national seed bank (Plant Gene Resources of Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada).
Continuous monitoring of game trails at RDL has revealed that white tailed deer, moose, elk, coyotes, and raccoons use the property throughout the year including to raise their young. Cameras have also documented American lynx, black bear and feral wild boar. The latter information has been forwarded to the Wildlife Ecology & Community Engagement Lab (WECE) Wild Hog Watch to add to their distribution information on this invasive species.
Native plant propagation:
Dr Richard St. Pierre, of Prairie Elements, is studying propagation methods of a number of native plant species to determine their feasibility as potential commericial products.