By Lori Wilson, Linking Canada
The Linking Communities Wetlands and Migratory Birds International Educators Conference was hosted in Swift Current on June 6 to 9
The Saskatchewan weather was fantastic for educators visiting the province from Utah, Northern California, Nayarit Mexico and Ottawa.
Linking Communities mission is to conserve shorebirds and their habitats through a network of key sites across the Americas. The partners are Chaplin and Quill Lakes in Saskatchewan, the Great Salt Lake in Utah and the Marismas Nacionales in Nayarit, Mexico. The funding partners are Rio Tinto Kennecott Copper and the organizing partners are Utah Linking Org, Nature Canada, Nature Sk and Chaplin Tourism.
The outcome of the partnerships is to promote Conservation, Environmental Education and Ecotourism within their own countries and to share this knowledge with the partners. Each location is a WHSRNS (Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network Site) and these sites share shorebirds and other migratory birds at different seasons.
Each location is home to significant IBA’s (Important Bird Areas) Chaplin Old Wives and Reed Lake locally. The three communities are linked together by similar economic, social and environmental interests.
The Linking conference was held in Swift Current as this was Canada’s turn to host, and daily trips were made to Chaplin, to take in the annual Shorebird festival. The visiting educators were thrilled with many sights and experiences like mist netting and banding some arctic nesting shorebirds, seeing the Aurora borealis for the first time and tasting perogies! Not to mention being able to see for miles and the expanse of our province, the clear night skies and crisp air…Oh and the ticks!
Some of the highlights of the agenda were visiting Central School in Swift Current and presenting to the grades 3 and 4 classes, visiting Southland Hutterite Colony sharing birds, food and languages. The Mexico group learned some German and the school kids learned a birdsong in Spanish, then in the middle of this a hockey game erupted…Only in Canada EH!
The final farewell supper was held at the Mainstay Inn on the gorgeous South Saskatchewan River.
Linking Chair from Utah Don Paul asked what does a perogie and an empanada have in common? He replied, “and American Avocet” the beautiful graceful salmon black and white shorebird that shares these same sites through its migration as it makes its summer home in Canada, stages and refuels in Utah then migrates to Mexico for the winter.
The Chaplin Shorebird Festival was a success again this year due to the community and the surrounding area that is committed to supporting the great work being done at the Nature Centre. The Centre is a not for profit and is dependent on contributions from visiting tourists and the festival fundraiser and those that donate funds and items to the auction. About 170 people attended from the province including an avid bird enthusiast at age 89 from Manitoba, who spent the entire day out on tour. The Centre is busy with year-end school trips but we welcome everyone out to the lake for tours and we will soon have many chicks to see as our endangered Piping Plover and other nesting birds fledge there young.