The Current Normal – Prairie Pothole

During the last ice age, kilometre-high glaciers scraped across North America. When the ice melted, millions of shallow pools were left behind. These “pothole” wetlands took tens of thousands of years to form naturally, yet in little more than a century, humans have destroyed many of them.

The Prairie Pothole Region spans southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. It also extends into North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Montana.The number of potholes fluctuates from two million to eight million, depending on seasonal moisture levels.

These are some of the best waterfowl breeding grounds on the planet. The region’s wetlands and grasslands also provide essential habitat for hundreds of other species – including more than 50 at-risk species.

Pothole wetlands are just as important for our own well-being. They help keep our water clean. They help regulate water levels in times of flooding and drought. They provide us with natural places to enjoy.


Despite the fact that the description says “Southern” Alberta, a map of the region shows that it does extend up to the area around Edmonton, likely why so many of our lakes are referred to as potholes.

We rode our bikes on a new route today, as I had discovered some interesting scenery on my photo shoot on July 12, 2020. We headed East on SH 510 to Eagle Rock Golf Course, before turning South onto roads we had already ridden.

Several things became obvious, very quickly:

  • 510 was much busier than 505.
  • 510 was narrower and rougher than 505
  • Riding this route, we got a new appreciation for just how far East we were riding. 8 km. and 24 minutes.
  • Summer highway construction was under way, so we had to physically distance from a flag person, as we waited for our turn.

Along the way, we passed many little ponds created as part of the Prairie Pothole scenario. The water height was greater this year, due recent heavy rainfall.

Prairie Pothole

Flying on by at such a great speed,

one might miss this pond, so full of life.

Prairie waterfowl of ev’ry breed,

safe from predators, avoiding strife.

Mom and Pop show their young ones the ropes,

bringing nature’s cycle round in full.

Next spring the young will return, with hopes,

as prairie pothole exerts its pull.

These photos were taken July 16, 2020.

Prairie pothole on 510
Your fences can’t hold me.
I believe this is a non-breeding Horned Grebe
Horned Grebe
Ruddy Duck – I was absolutely amazed at how blue his bill was
Ruddy Duck – he is not amused at my being there. Obviously there were chicks or a nest nearby

American Coot—you can just see the chick behind it

14 thoughts on “The Current Normal – Prairie Pothole

    1. We are a bit hillier here than the real prairies. Rolling hills to be sure. The trouble with many potholes on the flat prairie is that they dry out in summer and turn into alkali flats. As to duck language, sometimes I quack myself up. Cheers and thanks for reading. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I had seen one a week or two before o=in our City lake, but never before. The blue bill on this one was almost fluorescent. A very striking bird for sure. Thanks for reading and commenting. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve never seen Ruddy Ducks before and love their blue bills it’s amazing how blue it is! Apparently they live in Ireland too, I need to keep my eyes open next time I’m exploring Sligo surroundings. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 😀 Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am sure they have always been around here, but on first glance I likely thought they were just another duck. That was not fair and I will be watching for them from now on. Having an Alberta bird book (gift from my son and wife) really helps me get it right. Thanks for reading Aiva. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I have always been fascinated by the variety and colour of the birdlife in this area, as well as Lost Lagoon in Vancouver. As to the Ruddy Duck, I think he might be a Ruddy showoff. The blue bill is unbelievable, for sure. Thanks for reading and commenting. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

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