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Where We Can Go: Trip to Eyebrow marsh and Mortlach refreshes mind and spirit

Ron Walter takes a road trip to the Nisku Wildlife Refuge

It was the second last Friday in July. I awoke wanting to do something to get away from all the pandemic news and political nonsense.

My choice: Eyebrow’s Nisku marsh north of that town along the Qu’Appelle River. The drive out was pleasant, viewing the fine crops — a sea of blue flax, brilliant yellow hues of canola.

A Manitoba truck hauling a blue-green tank preceded me all the way to Eyebrow, but drove fast enough I had trouble staying in the speed limit.

About eight miles north of Eyebrow, the gently rolling land dips steeply into the Qu’Appelle Valley and the Nisku Wildlife Refuge.

The 61-year-old Ducks Unlimited project, Nisku, serves as marsh habitat for waterfowl and other birds.

Every trip out here rewards me with birds not seen every day. The sighting score includes herons, American bittern, bald eagles, black-necked stilts, black terns, grebes, ducks, geese, blackbirds, sparrows, gulls and hawks.

Today was quiet, peaceful and sunny. The air fresh; just right to get away from it all.

While walking down the dike between the fast flowing river channel and the marsh, a noisy red-winged blackbird announced my arrival.

Instead of the cheery Vrree Vrree song, his shrill call sounded like yicky yicky.

When I was within 20 feet he flew up almost dive-bombing me as if protecting a nest.

A few other black birds and sparrows and some ducks flew around. From the marsh came sounds of other birds. 

Then a large marbled godwit flew over slowly.

After walking half way to the weir that controls marsh water levels and the flow to Buffalo Pound Lake, I returned.

The slough east of the road where ducks used to swim and black terns hovered before diving for bugs is a sea of foxtail weed.

Heading back towards Mortlach, the Prius took a turn west on a gravel road to the nice village of Tugaske then to Eyebrow and south to Mortlach and lunch at Franklyn’s.

Some of the potholes that had no water in early June have some from recent rains. I wonder where the ducks and geese that usually nest in them went.

A trickle of water from the Ducks Unlimited’s Riverhurst channel flowed into Pelican Lake’s low water levels.

Lunch choice at Franklyn’s was a BLT with potato salad, rhubarb pie with ice cream and iced coffee. Paul Entz had the cucumber and salmon sandwich. 

Sue Franklyn was beaming when she told us a couple from Kyle, north of Swift Current, “came all the way here just for our fish and chips.”

Paul and I exchanged views on Donald Trump — just can’t get away from politics. Sue refereed.

Lunch over, the Prius headed east out of town on the gravel road that once was the Trans-Canada Highway, south at Caron along acreage row and east to Caribou Street.

Ron Walter can be reached at

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