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Travel Tuesday – Bobolinks, babies and more south of Calgary

Posted by Dan Arndt

While work has kept me rather busy and out of town for the majority of the past 6 weeks, on my brief trips back to Calgary I’ve been making a serious effort to get out and find some local birds. One of the most tantalizing of these birds was a lifer that’s eluded me for a few years in the Calgary region, a Bobolink. Their song is reminiscent of a robot, crossed with a blackbird, and is actually produced by two separate parts of their vocal cords singing entirely different songs. This particular pair of males was found near Priddis.

Pair of Bobolinks Plummer's Road, south of Calgary July 2, 2014

Pair of Bobolinks
Plummer’s Road, south of Calgary
July 2, 2014

Bobolink Plummer's Road, south of Calgary July 2, 2014

Bobolink
Plummer’s Road, south of Calgary
July 2, 2014

On one of my trips down to this area, I managed to find some adorable little baby American Coots still being fed by their mothers.

 

American Coot and chick Plummer's Road, south of Calgary July 2, 2014

American Coot and chick
Plummer’s Road, south of Calgary
July 2, 2014

American Coot and chick Plummer's Road, south of Calgary July 2, 2014

American Coot and chick
Plummer’s Road, south of Calgary
July 2, 2014

On another morning I took a visit to Frank Lake, and found a few different babies of different species, including a baby Willet, baby Ruffed Grouse, immature Western Meadowlarks, and baby Eared Grebes, all staying safe and close to their parents. With the breeding season being so short in this area of the world, one could almost blink and miss the whole thing!

Eared Grebe chick Frank Lake June 27, 2014

Eared Grebe chick
Frank Lake
June 27, 2014

Willet Chick Frank Lake June 27, 2014

Willet Chick
Frank Lake
June 27, 2014

baby Ruffed Grouse south of Turner Valley June 27, 2014

baby Ruffed Grouse
south of Turner Valley
June 27, 2014

baby Western Meadowlark Frank Lake June 27, 2014

baby Western Meadowlark
Frank Lake
June 27, 2014

And last but not least, thanks to a very special friend on the Facebook group Alberta Birds, I was able to find this adorable trio. An adult and two immature Black Terns, northeast of Calgary, just last week. Amazing, huh?

Baby Black Terns NE of Calgary July 15, 2014

Baby Black Terns
NE of Calgary
July 15, 2014

Baby Black Terns and mom NE of Calgary July 15, 2014

Baby Black Terns and mom
NE of Calgary
July 15, 2014

 

Sunday Showcase: Birds of the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

Yesterday I posted Tony LePrieur’s photos of the damage at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, and some of the birds he saw there. Here are more of his shots of birds at the sanctuary, all taken in early June 2014.

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Baltimore Oriole.

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Common Goldeneye with chicks.

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Red-tailed Hawk.

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Red-tailed Hawk.

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Western Wood-Pewee.

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House Finch.

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Northern Flicker.

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Spotted Sandpiper.

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Warbling Vireo.

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Tree Swallow.

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Downy Woodpecker.

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Double-crested Cormorants.

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Blue-winged Teal.

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American Robin, possibly banded at the sanctuary.

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Wood Ducks.

A Visit to the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

A lot of Calgary birders have been wondering when the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary will re-open. It was badly damaged in last June’s flood, and work to repair the damage is set to begin this summer. Unfortunately the sanctuary won’t be re-opening until the summer of 2015. But the Nature Centre is still open, including for school groups, and people are able to book free guided walks through parts of the site to see how it looks, and see that the wildlife is indeed still there. The one-hour tours are being offered until September 14.

You can book tours online through the City of Calgary Parks website or by calling 311 for information.

Recently Tony LePrieur went through the sanctuary on a couple of days and got many photos of the damage and the birds. First, the damage:

IBS (1)

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IBS (3)

IBS (2)

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So there is a lot still to be cleaned up, almost a full year after the flood.

Here are a few of the birds (and a mammal) that Tony saw. I will post more of his photos tomorrow.

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole.

Canada Goose (3)

Canada Geese with goslings.

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Red-tailed Hawk.

Eastern Kingbird

Eastern Kingbird.

Mule Deer

Mule Deer.

Wood Duck

Wood Ducks. Still there, and hard to find elsewhere in the city.

Least Flycatcher

Warbling Vireo.

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl and Black-billed Magpie.

Weaselhead Hummingbirds

The most reliable place to find hummingbirds in the city is the Weaselhead Nature Area in the SW. Tony LePrieur photographed both Rufous and Calliope Hummingbirds there, as well as other birds, on May 31, 2014.

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Calliope Hummingbird – our smallest bird species.

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Rufous Hummingbird.

Here’s a link to a previous post that shows where these birds nest.

Other birds of the Weaselhead:

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American Goldfinch.

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Swainson’s Hawk.

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Yellow Warbler.

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Cliff Swallow at nest.

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Cliff Swallows. They collect mud for their nests.

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American Wigeon.

Sunday Showcase: Snowstorm Fallout 2

There was also lots of action this weekend at South Glenmore Park.

Tamas Szabo took these photos while out with a Friends of Fish Creek birding course group on Saturday morning, May 3, 2014.

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Tree Swallows.

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Tree Swallow.

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Violet-green Swallow, showing white over the eye.

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Cliff Swallow.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler.

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Say’s Phoebe. Several were seen around the reservoir this weekend.

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American Pipit.

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Savannah Sparrow. There were hundreds at the water’s edge.

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Bonaparte’s Gull.

Sunday Showcase: Snowstorm Fallout 1

With the spring snowstorm we received in Calgary this weekend we were expecting to see some good birds here as migrants were forced down, and we weren’t disappointed.

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 Western Tanager, Carburn Park, May 3, 2014. Photo by Tony LePrieur

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Western Tanager, Carburn Park, May 3, 2014. Photo by Tony LePrieur

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Carburn Park in the snow, May 3, 2014. Photo by Tony LePrieur

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Yellow-rumped Warbler, Carburn Park, May 3, 2014. Photo by Tony LePrieur

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Western Wood-Pewee, Carburn Park, May 3, 2014. Photo by Tony LePrieur

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White-crowned Sparrows, Carburn Park, May 3, 2014. Photo by Tony LePrieur

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Savannah Sparrow, Carburn Park, May 3, 2014. Photo by Tony LePrieur

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Chipping Sparrow, Carburn Park, May 3, 2014. Photo by Tony LePrieur

Carburn Park – Part 1: The Ponds

Posted by Dan Arndt

My last two outings with the Friends of Fish Creek Spring Birding course were at Carburn Park, both on Thursday, April 17 and Sunday, April 20. Both days had their high points, and so I’ll be mixing and matching photos from each of those days here.

Carburn Park April 17 and April 20. 2014

Carburn Park
April 17 and April 20. 2014

While each day we did the route a little differently, the best birds were always in the same spots. On Sunday, we headed down to the Eric Harvie Bridge then walked back along the river with the sun behind us. While there weren’t too many birds near the bridge itself, as we moved northward we found our first Common Goldeneyes, an American Beaver, and shortly thereafter, a lone Muskrat above the beaver’s dam!

Common Goldeneye Carburn Park - April 20, 2014 Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/2000sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 800

Common Goldeneye
Carburn Park – April 20, 2014
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/2000sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 800

American Beaver Carburn Park - April 20, 2014 Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@200mm 1/1000sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 2000

American Beaver
Carburn Park – April 20, 2014
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@200mm
1/1000sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 2000

Muskrat Carburn Park - April 20, 2014 Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1250sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

Muskrat
Carburn Park – April 20, 2014
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1250sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

We were also treated to some vigorously displaying Downy Woodpeckers, chasing each other up and down from tree to tree. These two especially were really going at it!

Downy Woodpeckers displaying Carburn Park - April 20, 2014 Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/2000sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 800

Downy Woodpeckers displaying
Carburn Park – April 20, 2014
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/2000sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 800

We headed up the river, seeing a few Tree Swallows, a few Ring-billed and Franklin’s Gulls, and even heard a lone Song Sparrow calling from across the river before we headed back into the denser foliage. Most interestingly though was a little spot we had found on Thursday which was host to half a dozen Ruby-crowned Kinglets was still holding one little one singing away while the sun shone bright…. unlike Thursday, which was cloudy, gloomy and rather snowy!

Ruby-crowned Kinglet Carburn Park - April 20, 2014 Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1600sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1250

Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Carburn Park – April 20, 2014
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1600sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1250

Ruby-crowned Kinglet Carburn Park - April 17, 2014 Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Carburn Park – April 17, 2014
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

Up on the north end of the park we saw the local nesting pair of Bald Eagles in the distance, and both days it appeared that the female was still on the nest, brooding her eggs, while dad hunted for dinner.

Bald Eagle near nest Carburn Park - April 17, 2014 Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 500

Bald Eagle near nest
Carburn Park – April 17, 2014
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 500

The real highlight of the trip on Thursday though was seeing this flock of nearly a hundred swallows, both Violet-green (look for the ones with the white rump band above the tail) and Tree Swallows (all the rest of them, with the bluish-black backs) flying low over the river chowing down on their lunch of freshly hatched insects. While I had initially guessed that we had seen about four or five Violet-green Swallows, looking back over at my photos I was able to find at least 10 individuals, the largest number of that species I’ve seen in Calgary at once!

Violet-green and Tree Swallows Carburn Park - April 17, 2014 Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 400

Violet-green and Tree Swallows
Carburn Park – April 17, 2014
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 400

Of course, they weren’t there in any great numbers on Sunday, which was much warmer, and much nicer weather, but there was a beautiful Mourning Cloak butterfly, my first of the season, sunning itself near the second of the large ponds. It was a great end to a great day!

Mourning Cloak butterfly Carburn Park - April 20, 2014 Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1600sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1000

Mourning Cloak butterfly
Carburn Park – April 20, 2014
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1600sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1000

Thanks again for reading, and good birding!

Sunday Showcase: Spring Arrivals

Despite (or possibly because of) the snow and cold weather on Saturday, Tony LePrieur got some great shots of spring birds in Carburn Park and Fish Creek Park in SE Calgary, and some resident birds and mammals as well.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle), Carburn Park, April 26, 2014

Sunday warbler

Sunday warbler 2

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Franklin’s Gulls, Carburn Park, April 26, 2014

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American Robin, male, Carburn Park, April 26, 2014

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Resident White-tailed Deer, Carburn Park, April 26, 2014

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Common Loon, Carburn Park, April 26, 2014

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A resident bird in Fish Creek Park, male Ring-necked Pheasant, April 26, 2014

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Ring-necked Pheasant, male, Fish Creek Park, April 26, 2014

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Osprey with nesting material, Carburn Park, April 26, 2014

Tony returned to Carburn Park in the better weather on Sunday and got another shot of a Common Loon on the pond there.

Common Loon Sunday

Common Loon, Carburn Park, April 27, 2014

Eagles, Owls and Others

The photos below were taken by Josh OBrien. He uses a Nikon D600+Sigma 150-500mm. To see more of his photos, check his Facebook page here.

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Great Horned Owls

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Great Horned Owls

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Juvenile Bald Eagles

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Juvenile Bald Eagle

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Juvenile Bald Eagle stretching

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Great Gray Owl

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Great Gray Owl

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American Robin

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Downy Woodpecker

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Common Raven

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Great Horned Owl

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Great Horned Owl

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Juvenile Bald Eagle

Spring Arrivals at Fish Creek Park

Tony LePrieur saw some new birds for the year in Fish Creek Park on April 5, 2014, as well as some favourite residents.

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Northern Shoveler, male.

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European Starling.

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Red-winged Blackbird, male. This bird is arriving right on time, but all the ponds there were still mostly frozen over on this date. 

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, male. Likely a winter bird that will soon move on.

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Blue Jay, a year-round resident species.

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Snowshoe Hare. Transitioning to summer colours far faster than the surroundings are!

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Muskrat.

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Finally, some close-ups of one of the resident Great Horned Owls. Check the talons in the third photo.

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