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July Birds & Beers

The next Calgary Birds & Beers social get-together will be held from 6 to 9 pm on Friday July 24, at the Royal Canadian Legion, 9202 Horton Road SW Calgary. Everyone is welcome to join us to have a friendly chat with their fellow birders.

We have scheduled a few more of these events for the fall. Mark your calendars! Same time and location.

Friday, September 11, 2015
Friday, October 30, 2015
Friday, November 13, 2015

Birds of the Weaselhead – May 31 and June 14

Posted by Dan Arndt

Wow, hard to believe it’s July already! The rush of spring birding is over, but there are still some birding outings to recap from the Friends of Fish Creek Spring course. We headed to the Weaselhead for the May Species Count on May 31, and headed back there again on June 14, and most of the same species were found each time, but we did have a couple unique finds on each trip. Because this is my first time trying to overlay two different walks into one post, I’ve color coded our outings in the attached map.

Weaselhead - May 31 and June 14 2015

Weaselhead – May 31 and June 14 2015

Our outing on May 31 is in red in the above image, while our trip on June 14 is in blue. We also had significantly different weather each morning, with the weather on May 31 being absolutely incredible, clear, and bright, while June 14 was a bit gloomy, dark, and overcast with occasional rain here and there.

We had a couple great birds on our first outing at the top of the hill, with both a Spotted Towhee and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird right at the top.

Spotted Towhee Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 320

Spotted Towhee
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 320

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 320

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 320

At the feeders a bit further down the hill, we found a couple of Tree Swallows guarding their nests early in the day, catching some sun and warming up for the busy day ahead.

Tree Swallow Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/640sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 320

Tree Swallow
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/640sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 320

We almost missed out on the Ruby-throated Hummingbird on June 14th, except for a brief glance up the hill caught this little guy hanging out in the gloom.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/200sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 80

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/200sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 80

The Rufous Hummingbirds are absolutely amazing and can always be found in the same place every year. I’ve yet to see a female on this slope, but I suspect that if it wasn’t a good area for the males to find a mate, they wouldn’t be here year after year! Forgive me for sharing as many photos as possible of these beautiful little fireballs.

Rufous Hummingbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1250sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 800

Rufous Hummingbird
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1250sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 800

Rufous Hummingbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1250sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1000

Rufous Hummingbird
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1250sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1000

Rufous Hummingbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1250sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 800

Rufous Hummingbird
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1250sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 800

Rufous Hummingbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/320sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 100

Rufous Hummingbird
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/320sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 100

We headed back to the area south of the Elbow River and found the usual Eastern Phoebes at their regular spot as well, this one having caught some fresh breakfast!

Eastern Phoebe with diving beetle Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

Eastern Phoebe with diving beetle
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

As we headed towards the silverberry meadow, we heard the typical buzzing of the Calliope Hummingbirds in this area, but none of them really cooperated with the us and the sunlight, but I’m still pretty happy with the results!

Calliope Hummingbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1250sec., ƒ/9.0, ISO 640

Calliope Hummingbird
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1250sec., ƒ/9.0, ISO 640

Calliope Hummingbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/4000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 2000

Calliope Hummingbird
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/4000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 2000

Calliope Hummingbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 640

Calliope Hummingbird
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 640

We did hear a relatively uncommon bird back beyond the dense spruce where we have Boreal Chickadees each winter, and it turned out to be an Ovenbird singing on territory. Sadly, he had moved on by mid-June, but it was really quite a treat to hear and see one of these guys right our back yard!

Ovenbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 3200

Ovenbird
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 3200

Down at the far end of the Weaselhead, we had another Calliope Hummingbird in a spot I’d never seen one before, but at the far south end were a number of Grey Catbirds flitting around in the aspens, mewing away and singing their odd, disjointed songs.

Grey Catbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 3200

Grey Catbird
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 3200

Another nice treat were a few Ring-necked Ducks which have been at these south ponds for a few weeks. It seems like there’s a lot more of these around this year, as they just keep turning up all over the city, but maybe it’s just a matter of getting out into the places they like to hang around a little bit more.

Ring-necked Duck Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/640sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1250

Ring-necked Duck
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/640sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1250

On our walk back to the start we had our share of great birds as well, like this American Goldfinch singing from high in the trees, or the usual Cliff Swallows under the bridge over the Elbow River.

American Goldfinch Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1000

American Goldfinch
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1000

Cliff Swallow Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/2000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1000

Cliff Swallow
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/2000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1000

Have a great week, and good birding! Watch for the Monday supplemental post covering what we found at our visits to North Glenmore Park on these two outings!

Birding Locations: Marsland Basin

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

A little-known gem of a birding location near Calgary is Marsland Basin, a Ducks Unlimited wetland on a private farm about halfway between Eagle Lake and Namaka Lake, southeast of Strathmore. A 75-acre lake with mud flats and cattail marshes can be viewed from the edge of a wooded farmyard.

The homeowners have created a great natural environment for all kinds of birds here, and they invite any interested birders to come by at any time. There are chairs set up at the viewing area, and you can walk around the farmyard as well. Sign the guest book.

Marsland Basin

To get to Marsland Basin, take Twp Road 232 one mile east from the village of Namaka, then go north a half mile on RR 242. This road dead-ends by the yard. Just drive right up into the yard.

Birders are encouraged to enter their sightings on eBird. Use the Marsland Basin HotSpot. Having a lot of public reports of both nesting birds and migrants is a good way to ensure that the importance of a wetland is recognized, and it is more likely to be protected and preserved.

There is an upcoming Nature Calgary field trip to this location on Sunday July 26. Meet at the parking lot at Carburn Park at 8 am to carpool.

Competition Update, June 30

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

We have reached the halfway point in the eBird Calgary 2015 competition. May and June is the busiest time of the year for birding, and offers the best chance to add new species to your list. Some of the species totals that competition participants have recorded are very impressive. The Calgary area also continues to stand out for the number of eBird checklists submitted and the the number of different species reported.

The overall leader of the competition is Brian Elder, with 252 species within the competition circle so far in 2015. This is a really good total for July 1, and I think Brian has a good chance to beat the 2005 winning total of 265. Here is a link to Brian’s complete list as of June 24. He has since added Brewer’s Sparrow and Sedge Wren.

Here are the current standings (as of July 1) in the competition categories (top five shown).

Experienced:

Brian Elder 252

Ray Woods 230

Blake Weis 223

John Thompson 213

George Best 205

(Daniel Arndt-236 and Andrew Hart-211 are not eligible for prizes.)

Beginner:

Nicole Pellerin 206

Graeme Mudd 187

Aphtin Perratt 185

Christopher Naugler 183

Darlene Shymkiw 181

Youth:

Birdboy Canada (Ethan Denton) 174

Simone Pellerin-Wood 172

Aidan Vidal 148

Robin Naugler 48

Lucianna Lybbert 30

Yard List:

Phil Ulmann 68

John Anderson 43

Laurie Anderson 43

John Bargman 39

Judy Swan 34

(Bob Lefebvre-41 not eligible for prizes.)

The increase in eBird usage in the Calgary area is very impressive. So far in 2015, 18,984 checklists have been submitted to eBird in Alberta. Calgary county, which makes up the bulk of our competition circle (but is a very small part of the entire province) accounts for 8,372 of those, or 44%. A total of 314 species have been reported in Alberta on eBird this year, and the total for Calgary county is 281.

You’ll notice that even Brian’s impressive total of 252 is well short of the total number of species reported here so far, so there are always new birds to be found!

If you are not among the competition leaders, remember that there is plenty of time to catch up. It will be more difficult for the top birders to add new species as the year goes on, but if you missed a lot of species on spring migration, you can get them on the fall migration. If you haven’t been out birding much in the first half of the year, you can start start now to get out and build your list. The fall shorebird migration is already under way, and the warblers will start moving south through the area on about August 10th.

Dan Arndt, Rose Painter and I have led quite a few field trips for Nature Calgary in the last couple of months and found lots of great birds. We will continue to lead trips so please join us, or go on any of the other Nature Calgary birding outings. You can also join the Friends of Fish Creek Fall birding course, which begins August 31.

Even if you don’t have designs on finishing in the prizes, you can still set some personal goals for birding in 2015. At the start of the year I had two goals. From the time I started using eBird on January 1, 2012 until the end of 2014, I had recorded 230 species in the Calgary count circle, and my first goal was to reach that total just for 2015. (I’m at 202 so I have a chance!)

Secondly, I decided to submit at least one eBird checklist each day, as long as I was here in the count circle. So far so good on that one, as I have only missed three days in April when I was in Montana (I did several lists from there though!), and I have submitted a total of 363 eBird checklists in 2015. Does anyone else want to take up the challenge of submitting a checklist every day for the rest of the year?

I also hoped to add several life birds to my list and I have six so far.

So set some birding goals for the second half of the year and get out and see some birds!

IMG_0917Mountain Bluebird, Glenbow Ranch, May 17, 2015

May Species Count 2015 – Hull’s Wood to Lafarge Meadows

Posted by Dan Arndt

Our outing on May 31 was to the Weaselhead Natural Area as part of the May Species Count, and we went back there on June 14 as well, so I’m going to roll those out in a single post next week. Instead, I’ll be posting some photos of our outing on May 30 to the east end of Fish Creek Provincial Park between Hull’s Wood and Lafarge Meadows, an area I’ve covered for the past few years.

Hull's Wood to Lafarge Meadows - May Species Count, May 30, 2015

Hull’s Wood to Lafarge Meadows – May Species Count, May 30, 2015

I was accompanied by Rose Painter, my co-leader for our regular Sunday morning outings for this spring, and we both found a lot of good birds that morning. While the weather was gloomy and grey, it was still quite warm, and we thankfully didn’t get rained out.

I think the rainy/gloomy weather had put down a few birds overnight, because we had an abnormally high number of Baltimore Orioles singing throughout the day: eighteen males singing and a lone female that we spotted as well, compared to the usual number in this area being about half a dozen or so. It was really nice to have these guys so actively singing, despite the gloom.

Baltimore Oriole Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

Baltimore Oriole
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

We also had our usual numbers of Spotted Sandpipers, along the river, retaining ponds, and right on Fish Creek itself. While they weren’t actively displaying, there were a few that we were pretty sure were sitting on nests.

Spotted Sandpiper Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/400sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

Spotted Sandpiper
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/400sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

It was also really great to see a good number of Killdeer along this stretch. In 2013, I had ten nesting pairs, while in 2014 I was entirely shut out of this species, as many of the gravel bars had shifted and some had even totally lost their gravel patches and were mainly boulder strewn. This female was trying to lure us away from her nest right on one of the newer, much more extensive gravel bars along the Bow River.

Killdeer Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 640

Killdeer
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 640

We also had our first really good looks at Cedar Waxwings for the year, which had also returned overnight in some pretty good numbers. They were actively feeding low in the bushes along the river, where the insects were most active.

Cedar Waxwing Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/400sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

Cedar Waxwing
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/400sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

Along this stretch of the Bow River, I’ve had a pair of Willow Flycatchers breeding and nesting for the past three years. Each year they move the exact site of the nest, but they’re always within about two hundred meters of the spot where I first found them. They’re a little unusual to find within the city, but their calls and songs are distinctive. This photo also shows that even using the eye-ring as a field mark can be somewhat tricky, because this little gal has quite a prominent one.

Willow Flycatcher Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/250sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

Willow Flycatcher
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/250sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

This gravel bar is also where I get my usual Brewer’s Blackbirds, and rarely get them anywhere else on this route. One of the perks of doing a route like this year after year is finding all the usual spots to find great birds. I do think it would be fun to switch it up every once in a while, but I do like seeing these guys in the same spots every year.

Brewer's Blackbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 640

Brewer’s Blackbird
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 640

We followed the edge of the river all the way down to the boat launch, finding some Franklin’s Gulls, but not much else along the far side of the river. We also found a nice male Brown-headed Cowbird displaying close to us. They really are quite interesting birds to look at, no matter how you feel about their particular breeding habits.

Brown-headed Cowbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 3200

Brown-headed Cowbird
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 3200

Brown-headed Cowbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/640sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 800

Brown-headed Cowbird
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/640sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 800

One of the other nice things with days like this, similar to last year, is that this is still during the main thrust of northward warbler migration. Last year, I had my first Blackpoll Warbler of the year, and this year I turned up this young male American Redstart, singing away along the creek just off of Sikome Lake.

American Redstart Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/640sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 2500

American Redstart
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/640sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 2500

Once we crossed under the Highway 22x bridge, things slowed down a little, but we did get some good looks at some waterfowl along the stormwater ponds, including this Cinnamon Teal that we surprised with a brief look at, and a few families of Canada Geese with their babies.

Cinnamon Teal Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/640sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 800

Cinnamon Teal
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/640sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 800

Canada Goose and goslings Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 800

Canada Goose and goslings
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 800

Further south along the river bank, we had some good looks at Eastern Kingbirds, but unfortunately in the years that I’ve done this route, we’ve never found Western Kingbirds in the poplar stand south of the bridge, where I’ve been told was one of the few places in the city they were known to breed, until recently. I suspect the heavy development on both the east and west side of the park there has made it a little less accessible and appropriate for them to nest.

Eastern Kingbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 500

Eastern Kingbird
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 500

One of the perks of the flood in 2013 was the generation of habitat for a number of species. The large piles of debris in the parks make good homes for House Wrens, Lincoln’s Sparrows and Song Sparrows, while the cut banks of the Bow River and Elbow River created large expanses of open banks, perfect for both Northern Rough-winged and Bank Swallows to nest in, which they have done along the south edge of my route. It’s always nice to see these guys, and even better to get them up close and personal like this.

White-breasted Nuthatch Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 800

Bank Swallow
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 800

The last really notable sighting of the day was this White-breasted Nuthatch, who was hammering away at this bit of excrement near Sikome Lake. Here he his proudly displaying his prize, which I assume he’s taking home to feed to his young. Nature isn’t always pretty!

White-breasted Nuthatch Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 3200

White-breasted Nuthatch
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 3200

In all, we covered just over 16 kilometers (10 miles!) in eight hours, and broke my previous record number of species by 1, finding 76 species in this area. It was a great morning (and early afternoon), and I think maybe one of the more under-appreciated areas of Fish Creek Provincial Park.

 

Good birding, and have a great week!

June Birds of Calgary

Some shots from in and around Calgary. Taken June 14 and June 20 in Fish Creek Park and Bridlewood wetlands by Tony LePrieur.

image1Great Blue Heron with lunch (sucker?)

image3Cedar Waxwing

image1Ring-necked Pheasant

image2Tennessee Warbler

image6American Wigeon pair

image5Eastern Kingbird

image3Black-crowned Night-Heron

image2Great Blue Heron

image6Great Blue Heron

image7Franklin’s Gull

image4Spotted Sandpiper

image5Red-necked Grebe with young, on nest.

The Beautiful Birds of Bowmont

Posted by Dan Arndt

Two weeks ago our group visited Bowmont Park, one of the few parks we often visit in the northwest quadrant of Calgary with the Friends of Fish Creek birding courses. It’s a bit of a special park, as it borders on the Bow River, but also a gravel quarry which is home to a pair of Osprey in the summer, a few small ponds, and a south facing slope allowing for a wide variety of songbirds.

Bowmont Park - May 24, 2015

Bowmont Park – May 24, 2015

This was the first week of outings where Yellow Warblers were the most visible. All spring and summer long, these little yellow fireballs will be singing all over the place until they manage to find a mate and raise their young. They’re really quite fun little guys to watch, and it’s always nice when they’re so easy to photograph, like they were that morning!

Gray Catbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

Yellow Warbler
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

I mentioned the Osprey nest earlier, and this is one area where Enmax has set up an Osprey platform to prevent the Osprey from nesting inside the gravel quarry on the power lines. When we rounded the corner to check out the nest, we were greeted to this sight:

Canada Goose Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 400

Canada Goose
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 400

The platform had been taken over by a family of Canada Geese, but thankfully the Osprey had found another location to nest nearby. We walked over to the river a little before coming out underneath the Osprey nest, and found this Tree Swallow picking up nesting material right off the pathway.

Gray Catbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1250

Tree Swallow
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1250

On our way out to the main pathway, we spotted this Clay-colored Sparrow finishing up his shift at the gravel quarry and heading out for the day. They’re such industrious little workers! This was just after 8:00 in the morning and already he’d put in a full day of work.

Clay-colored Sparrow Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

Clay-colored Sparrow
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

Speaking of hard workers, this Osprey was taking trips to and from the new nest all morning, each time taking more and more branches in to build up the nest to an appropriate size, wedging them into the nest each time.

Osprey Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

Osprey
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

The pond at the back of the quarry which is usually unbelievably productive turned up next to nothing for us. It seemed rather unusual, so we headed further up the north slope, and found this perched Swainson’s Hawk waiting for us up there.

Swainson's Hawk Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1000sec., ƒ/10.0, ISO 800

Swainson’s Hawk
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1000sec., ƒ/10.0, ISO 800

While we had some good looks at a few birds on the northwest hill, we had much better looks at them a bit later on, but thankfully we did manage to get a nice close look at a Northern Rough-winged Swallow on the river near the pathway on our way back. These birds can be somewhat hard to find around the city, but often along the Bow River.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1000sec., ƒ/10.0, ISO 1600

Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1000sec., ƒ/10.0, ISO 1600

We gave the pond a second chance to redeem itself, but sadly it was just as empty as it had been on our first visit, so we walked along the back end of the quarry and were treated to another great view of a male Yellow Warbler singing his heart out.

Yellow Warbler Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

Yellow Warbler
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

Our last good bird of the day was a lone Gray Catbird, of which we had seen a few earlier in the day but at a bit further distance. This beautifully drab bird was singing his heart out over and over again from the aspens and willows nearby. The cinnamon undertail and jet black cap are the only real splashes of color on these birds, but their song is unmistakable.

Gray Catbird Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

Gray Catbird
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

And that was another great week of birding. Have yourself a wonderful week, and good birding!

Furry Friday: City Foxes

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

I recently found a Red Fox den in the city of Calgary. There are five kits, and although I didn’t have my camera when I found them, I returned later and was able to get a couple of photos before the adult spotted me. The den is in a very exposed and quite busy spot, so I didn’t want to stay and disturb them.

IMG_1337Adult Red Fox with one kit at den.

IMG_1343Red Fox kit.

IMG_1347

IMG_1351

 

Video of House Finches Hatching

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

I’ve started to see some newly fledged House Finches around my yard recently, so I thought I’d post this video from last year, taken by Sandy and David Currie. I’ve never seen where the House Finches nest in my area, but the Curries had House Finches nesting inside a Christmas wreath hanging in their window for four of the five years to 2014. This gave them a great opportunity to photograph the birds from egg to hatching. They took time-lapse photos about eight hours a day to give a thirty-minute video of each days’ events. It was eleven days from the female beginning to brood to the first egg hatching. Here is the edited result:

 

 House Finches nesting. Photos/video by David and Sandy Currie.

An update for the 2015 nesting season: Five eggs were laid and four hatched, but then magpies found the nest and ate the hatchlings and destroyed the nest. The adult House Finches keep returning and may try to nest again, but will probably have to find a new site if they want to raise a brood.

Wednesday Wings: Merlin with Rock Pigeon

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

I have often seen Merlins chasing Rock Pigeons, but it seems to be a very hard bird to catch. On April 10, 2015, near 19 Street NE and the Trans-Canada Highway, Chris Johnson got this excellent shot a Merlin with its Rock Pigeon prey.

17075318516_0789cdcd8d_k

Merlin with Rock Pigeon. Photo by Chris Johnson.

Taken with a Canon 6D 70-200 2.8 lens. At 200mm, f/4.5 1/400 and ISO 100.