There are places throughout the Meewasin Valley that are prime destinations to do some wildlife spotting. Beaver Creek Conservation Area is always marvelous. Chief Whitecap Park is loaded with a variety of birds year round. And the Northeast Swale almost always has deer lurking about, particularly at dusk and dawn.
But there’s one spot that a lot of people don’t consider checking out. For years, the beaver pond behind the Diefenbaker Canada Centre on the University of Saskatchewan campus, aka Devil’s Dip, has provided a home for the country’s most famous rodents. But this fall, they aren’t the only Meewasin Valley residents who have been seen in the area.
As always when looking for wildlife, there are basic rules that need to be kept in mind.
- Be realistic. There are no guarantees in wildlife spotting and the animals you’re looking for may not be around.
- Be respectful. This goes for the land, the other people around you, and especially the wildlife. It also means packing your trash out and not picking up “souvenirs” from the environment. Take a pic, don’t pick.
- Be sensible. Keep a safe distance away from any and all wildlife.
Beavers on the Job
Calling beavers industrious is an incredible understatement. Their work damming off a drainage ditch leading from the University of Saskatchewan down to the South Saskatchewan River created the pond they now call home. And their aggressive tree collection methods have led to robust tree wrapping programs from the university and Meewasin.
That doesn’t change the fact that they are incredibly fascinating as well as highly beneficial for the local wetland ecology. Beavers can be spotted swimming, collecting trees, and taking naps in a sunny spot at this pond. They’ll be disappearing for the winter quite soon, so make a point to stop by before the snow flies if you’re walking the Meewasin Trail.
Muskrat and Mink and Porcupines, Oh My!
Beavers aren’t the only adorable, furry rodents who like the water and need a place to stay for the winter. And it looks like one of them has moved into the Beaver Pond! It’s reputedly common for muskrat to join beavers in their lodges and winter with them. At least one muskrat has recently been viewed in the pond a few times, so that’s likely the case.
Not all of the Meewasin Valley’s top rodents want to get in the water with the beavers. A massive porcupine was recently documented in the vicinity. Again, people know they’re around but it’s always fun to see one waddling down the trail. Just keep your distance as they don’t generally enjoy company on their strolls.
A surprising and rare visitor was also spotted at the pond by Mike Digout, a local wildlife expert and photographer who spends a lot of time there. He saw a mink hanging out in the pond with the muskrat and beavers. There are minks in the Meewasin Valley, but sightings are few and far between, to say the least.
While this might seem obvious, it’s always worth mentioning there is also an abundance of migrating birds hanging out around the river at this time of year. Naturally, there’s an absurd number of Canadian Geese but they’re not the only ones on the move. Keep your eyes peeled. You never know what you’ll see.