Episode 1: The Snow Goose Case

Diana, Sophie and Aara keeping searching for birds outside the school bus
Diana, Sophie and Aara searching for birds outside the school bus

The first episode of Let’s Find Out, where we take your questions about Edmonton’s history and find out the answer together. This episode: the Snow Goose Case. How did the Snow Goose Festival become the Snow Goose Chase?

The answer reveals something fascinating about us, what we can get used to, and how quickly normal can change.

 

In this episode, we followed a family who’d come out birding on the Snow Goose Chase for the first time: Sophie Matovu, Aara Matovu, and Diana Riley.

We learned that the Snow Goose Festival used to draw thousands of birders to Tofield to see the migratory birds passing through nearby Beaverhill Lake.

Listen to the episode to find out what happened next, then look below the spoiler line for more information.

spoilers below

Our journey leads us to find out what happened to Beaverhill Lake.

I travelled down to Tofield to ask Recreation/Facilities Coordinator Vanita Eglauer where the lake is today. Below you can see the map she pulled up, created by the Edmonton Nature Club’s Jim Lange walking around with a GPS back in 2012. It was a shadow of its former self. And today it’s even smaller.

The bird blind at Francis Viewpoint used to sit right at the edge of the lake – a perfect spot to watch birds on the water without spooking them. Today, all you can see from that spot is grass and cattle.

Many factors probably contributed to the decline of Beaverhill Lake, including small changes in evaporation, precipitation, and runoff. This 2008 study by Garth van der Kamp, Dwayne Keir, and Marlene S. Evans showed that many of Canada’s prairie lakes went through a decline in the 20th century for similar reasons.

6 comments

  1. This was so interesting. There are several lakes in this area (Camrose) that have all but disappeared. Many of them were important wild bird nesting/stop over sites. Bittern Lake, Miquelon, Manitou Lake near Marsden Saskatchewan. Such a loss.

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  2. Fun! These days we organise 9 buses for inner city youth, low income families, recent immigrants and refugees plus 3 buses for the paying public. We have a team of 70 volunteers to pull this off every year.

    Bob Parsons/Edmonton Nature Club.

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  3. That lake actually caught on fire a few years back- I would have thought with all the rain this year it would have re-appeared I gusee we still have some really dry land out there

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