Birding after the Flood: How the 2013 flooding has impacted some of our favourite hotspots

It’s been over a month now since Calgary has been back to “normal” post-flood… or at least for the most part. There are still people cleaning out, drying out, and even tearing out basements in Calgary, and some neighborhoods in High River have only just been allowed to go back into their homes that will undoubtedly be condemned and demolished due to the severe contamination from mold, sewage, and flood waters. And that’s just the homes. Infrastructure like bike paths, roads, and parks have been the hardest, hit, especially those near any sort of waterway.

 

The full list of park closures is on the City of Calgary Parks webpage here, but the short list is as follows: Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Carburn Park, The Weaselhead Flats, parts of Prince’s Island Park, lower Bowmont Park, Bowness Park, Griffith Woods, Lawrey Gardens, Sandy Beach, Stanley Park, Beaverdam Flats, Pearce Estate Park, and parts of Sue Higgins Park are all closed until further notice. Furthermore, the Weaselhead Flats are being assessed by the Department of National Defence after a live howitzer shell from military training exercises prior to 1933 was eroded and flushed down the Elbow River shortly following the worst of the flooding, and was found on July 3.

 

Given its positioning between two significant meanders of the Bow River, the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary was hit quite hard by the floods. Jeffries’ Pond became part of the river channel at the height of the flood, and the entire low-lying area below the Walker House was under water for days. Many of the trails, observation platforms, and even a few bridges are simply gone, and the cleanup is going to take months before the park has recovered. CBC Calgary did a story with some chilling pictures on how heavily the sanctuary was damaged on July 12, and according to the City of Calgary’s Parks page, the sanctuary is closed until further notice, while the Nature Centre remains open.

 

Carburn Park’s furthest north pond was formerly separated from the flow of the Bow River by a long, 10-15 foot wide gravel bar, which had a number of trees, grass, and shrubs established over the park’s 40 year history. Now, that pond is a spillway hardly separated from the main river channel at all.

 

Parts of Hull’s Wood, Lafarge Meadows, and Sikome Lake in Fish Creek Provincial Park have also suffered great damage from the flooding, either from ponds flooding over their banks from high rain volumes, from the river cutting away huge chunks of their former cut-banks, or even just from the sediment and debris load of the flooding dredging up the river bottom, destroying gravel and sand bars, and depositing inches of sediment on the grassy floodplains once the water levels subsided.

 

There are currently no volunteer opportunities to help clean up the parks, but keep your eyes on the site and we’ll keep you all up to date as we get new information!

4 thoughts on “Birding after the Flood: How the 2013 flooding has impacted some of our favourite hotspots

  1. Thanks for the update. I am a brit and a very amateur birder who is visiting Calgary for a couple of days at the end of this month. What hotspots are left that are worth visiting?

    • Hi Bob,

      Sorry for the delay in replying! Hopefully you get this in time for it to make a difference!

      Much of Fish Creek Provincial Park is back up and running. I’d recommend Votier’s Flats, Mallard Point, and anywhere on the west side of the park as well. Confederation Park is another great place right now as the warbler migration is at its peak here in Calgary as I write this, and will be great until about the 10th of September or so.

      If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to email us at birdscalgary@gmail.com.

      – Dan

      • Hi Dan,

        Thanks for the info. You have got it to me on time. I am flying out on Friday and hope to look at Fish Creek Saturday afternoon. Thanks to your heads up I can study warblers – I just hope they are not all look- alikes as some British warblers can only be told apart by their birdsong.

        Bob

        • Hi Bob,

          Thankfully most of them are fairly distinctive, but there are a handful (sadly, the most common ones around here) that can be a bit tricky to tease out a correct ID. I’d just say practice, practice, practice!

          – Dan

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