Out in the woods at Nebo

Pond at Nebo (Photo by Bill Armstrong)

Pond at Nebo (Photo by Bill Armstrong)

January 10, 2020 | by Bill Armstrong

Having experienced several Conservation Volunteers (CV) events on Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) properties over several years, spending part of a day at the end of September on the 178-hectare (439-acre) Nebo property in Saskatchewan was a change of pace for me.

Living on the (mostly flat) Regina plains, the CV events I have attended have been in southern Saskatchewan at grasslands properties with descriptive names such as Wideview, Hole in the Wall and Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area

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Nebo is different. It is less than an hour’s drive west of Prince Albert, in what Saskatchewan folk call parkland, the transitional zone between the grasslands in the province’s south and the boreal forest further north. 

Boggy field (Photo by Bill Armstrong)

Boggy field (Photo by Bill Armstrong)

On the Nebo property, stands of balsam poplar, dogwood, white spruce, quaking aspen, chokecherry shrubs and northern snowberry are mixed with patches of rough fescue, along with marshes and a small creek. This mix of habitats makes Nebo home to a diversity of mammals, waterfowl and grassland birds, including species at risk, such as the little brown bat, northern long-eared bat, olive-sided flycatcher, Canada warbler, rusty blackbird, horned grebe and western grebe. Mammals found on the property include deer, moose and American black bear.

Nebo is NCC’s newest Nature Destinations property in Saskatchewan, and a wonderful place to hike.

The other thing different about this CV event is that the 30 of us who joined the four NCC staff were not there to help with the usual CV chores, but to explore and take photos. NCC had sent out an invitation to camera clubs across the province for a photo walk at Nebo. Members from various clubs responded, with some travelling from afar.

NCC purchased the Nebo property in 2016 with the goal of maintaining and enhancing its natural values. Through grazing leases, local ranchers graze their livestock on the property during warmer months. 

The day of the photo walk was definitely not warm. The weather app on my phone showed 1 C as we began hiking. Layering up and keeping shutter fingers warm was the order of the day.

The area had been logged in 2015, so what we experienced as we hiked was a mix of stands of mature trees and clearings where shrubs and bushes were regenerating. We had to watch our step because 32,000 white spruce seedlings were planted in the area in the past two years by Tree Canada, in partnership with NCC.

Solitary tree (Photo by Bill Armstrong)

Solitary tree (Photo by Bill Armstrong)

While the day was chilly and mostly overcast, we photographers were fortunate to capture some vibrant fall colours along the trails that thread through the property. Some photographers reported seeing deer. No one saw a bear, which is either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your point of view.

Animal trail (Photo by Bill Armstrong)

Animal trail (Photo by Bill Armstrong)

For me, the opportunity to spend a day in nature, including lunch in the nippy outdoors with a large group of fellow photographers, was a unique and memorable experience. Now that NCC has tapped into a network of photography enthusiasts across Saskatchewan, I hope similar events will take place in the future (hint, hint).

Bill Armstrong (Photo courtesy Bill Armstrong)

About the Author

Bill Armstrong is a freelance writer and amateur photographer living in Regina.

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