Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Situated in southcentral Saskatchewan, Paysen, Williams, and Kettlehut Lakes form part of the Thunder Creek meltwater channel. This area consists of grasslands, ponds, and marshes. Periods of drought in the late 1980s caused most of the ponds and wetlands to dry up. To stabilize the water levels in the network of lakes in the valley, water is now pumped from Lake Diefenbaker into a small lake that forms the source of Thunder Creek. This project has extended the area of marsh and open water, which are used as both breeding grounds and staging areas for thousands of birds.
The Paysen, Williams, and Kettlehut Lakes areas supports a rich assemblage of staging and breeding water birds. The colonial species that nest among the lakes include Western Grebes (300), Eared Grebes (575), Franklins Gulls (500), and Forsters Terns (100 as much as 2.3% of the estimated national population). In addition, large numbers of water-related songbirds, such as Marsh Wren, Sedge Wren, Common Yellowthroat, Le Contes Sparrow, and Nelsons Sharp-tailed Sparrow nest throughout the area.
During other times of the year, large numbers of waterfowl stage on the lakes. Flocks of Gadwall use the area for moulting, (2,550 recorded at Kettlehut Lake) while groups of Bufflehead and Northern Shoveler (1,000 recorded at Kettlehut Lake) stopover during fall migration. Large flocks of Tundra Swans, Canada Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese, Snow Geese, and Ross Geese also congregate here in large numbers during both the spring and fall migration. Common Loons and Sandhill Cranes are also attracted to the lakes.
Although it is well recognized as a major concentration site for birds, there is relatively little information on the numbers present in Thunder Creek valley. The area has not been as thoroughly studied as other sites in the region. Even so, as of 1996, 151 species had been recorded in the valley.
The Paysen, Williams, and Kettlehut Lakes area is provincially-owned crown land. The Riverhurst Management Plan, a joint conservation management project developed by Ducks Unlimited through the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, was initiated in 1990 to provide a regular water flow to the lakes in Thunder Creek valley. This dependable water supply is expected to increase and improve the wetland habitat in the valley. This habitat is of particular importance, because it is situated within a heavily cultivated landscape (a total of 75 to 80% of the surrounding area is under cultivation). However, wildlife remains at risk from the negative impacts of pesticide spraying and irrigation in the surrounding agricultural lands.IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status