Tag Archive | Birding course

Exploring the Irrigation Canal with the Friends of Fish Creek

Posted By Bob Lefebvre

The fall session of the Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park birding course began in early September. In the first week of October, the groups birded along the irrigation canal in SE Calgary, from Gosling Way to 50 Avenue. The canal is drained each year at the end of September, and the first couple of weeks of October are excellent for waterfowl and other birds feeding there.

On October 8, 2017, Max Ortiz Aguilar went with his Sunday morning group and took some excellent photographs. (All photos taken by Max Ortiz Aguilar, Irrigation Canal, Calgary, October 8, 2017.)

One of the star birds here in the fall is the Hooded Merganser. There are usually quite a few in the canal, and you can get good close looks.

Hooded Merganser (male).

Two male and four female-type (female or immature) Hooded Mergansers. The right-hand bird looks like a young male.

The most common shorebird in the fall is the Greater Yellowlegs. Lessers are also seen, but in low numbers. Killdeer and Spotted Sandpipers are usually around, and sometimes you find Dowitchers and even American Golden-Plovers.

Greater Yellowlegs.

Greater Yellowlegs group.

The most common waterfowl here, as on the Bow River, are Canada Geese and Mallards. You can usually see a few hundred on this stretch of the canal. You can also find Northern Shovelers, Redheads, Common Goldeneyes, Common Mergansers, and Double-crested Cormorants feeding in the canal. There are also huge numbers of Ring-billed Gulls, plus Franklin’s Gulls and sometimes uncommon migrant gull species.

Canada Geese and Mallards.

Canada Goose in flight.

American Wigeons are often seen. By this time the adult males are transitioning to breeding plumage, or have already done so.

American Wigeons (females).

You can find quite a few songbird species in the treed areas (especially along the golf course). The chickadees are rather tame.

Black-capped Chickadee.

Owls aren’t usually seen right along the canal but the group got lucky this day.

Great Horned Owl.

Mule Deer can be seen occasionally anywhere along this stretch of the river. You may also see Eastern Gray Squirrels, Coyotes, Red Foxes, Beavers, Muskrats, and American Mink.

Mule Deer.

Finally, the canal is a good place to find the scarce Rusty Blackbird in the fall. You can see them turning over leaves at the water’s edge.

Rusty Blackbird.

To see more of Max’s photos, go to his Flickr page.

If you are interested in joining the Friends of Fish Creek birding courses, see this page. The Winter session begins on January 8, 2018, and they are now taking registrations.

 

Autumn Birding Course 2017

Registration is open for the popular Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society Autumn Birding Course.

Autumn Birding Course – Registration Now Open

Autumn Birding Course Starts Monday, September 4, 2017

Autumn is one of the best times of year for birding. Between September and December, you can see, hear and learn about more than 150 bird species. As the leaves drop off the trees in the cooler months, many of the smaller migratory birds will be much easier to see. Outings are conducted by Gus Yaki, a lifelong  naturalist who has birded around the world – and other experienced instructors. All birding course sessions are held in the great outdoors – in Fish Creek Provincial Park and other natural areas. Each outing is approx. 2.5 hours. Choose to come 1 or 2 days / week.

Each outing is approx. 2.5 hours. Start times Monday – Thursday: 9:15am
Saturdays: 9:00am, Sundays: 9:00am or 1:15pm Choose to come 1 or 2 days / week

2017-18 Friends of Fish Creek Membership fees: Individual: $35.00, Family: $45.00
Senior (60 or over): $25.00, Senior Family: $30.00. Renew Your Membership or Become a Member

Registration Required. Click here to Register

Photo of Long-eared Owl courtesy of Phil Smith

Copyright © 2017 Friends of Fish Creek, All rights reserved.

Spring Birding Course 2017

Mountain Chickadee seen by the birding course participants at Bebo Grove, Fish Creek Park. Photographed February 14, 2017. Photo by David Mitchell.

The popular Friends of Fish Creek birding course begins its 12-week spring session on April 3, 2017.

Go out on field trips with experienced leaders once or twice a week for twelve weeks, and learn about the birds of Calgary. You can expect to see over 150 species of birds.

Field trips are held in several parts of Fish Creek Park, in Carburn Park, Beaverdam Flats, the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, the Weaselhead Nature Area, Bowmont Park, Elliston Lake, Griffith Woods Park, and possibly other locations.

It is still only $5 for children (accompanied by a registered adult) for the whole twelve-week course! See this page for details on how to register.

Here are just a few more of the many birds seen on the winter course this year.

Bald Eagle (adult), Mallard Point, Fish Creek Park, February 8, 2017. Photo by David Mitchell.

Black-capped Chickadee (note the unusual brownish cap), Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, March 4, 2017. Photo by Ken Pride.

Ruffed Grouse, Weaselhead Nature Area, February 22, 2017. Photo by David Mitchell.

Wood Duck (female, centre back) with Mallards, Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, March 4, 2017. Photo by Ken Pride.

Great Horned Owl, Beaverdam Flats, March 6, 2017. Photo by Ken Pride.

Common Raven, Beaverdam Flats, March 6, 2017. Photo by Ken Pride.

Common Raven and Great Horned Owl, Beaverdam Flats, March 6, 2017. Photo by Ken Pride.

Great Horned Owl, Beaverdam Flats, March 6, 2017. Photo by Ken Pride.

Winter Birding Course 2017

There is still time to register to take part in the Winter 2017 session of the Friends of Fish Creek birding course. Go out on field trips with experienced leaders once or twice a week for twelve weeks, and learn about the winter birds of Calgary. You will also see the early-arriving spring migrants.

Field trips are held in several parts of Fish Creek Park, in Carburn Park, the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, the Weaselhead Nature Area, Bowmont Park, and other locations.

It is still only $5 for children (accompanied by a registered adult) for the whole twelve-week course! See this page for details on how to register.

Autumn Birding Course Starts August 29!

The Autumn session of the popular Friends of Fish Creek Birding course begins on August 29.

Bald Eagle juvenile

Juvenile Bald Eagle. Photo by John Stegeman, January 24, 2015, Beaverdam Flats.

Autumn is a good time to begin birding. As the leaves drop off the trees, many of the smaller birds, which will be migrating, are much easier to see. All sessions are held in the great outdoors – in Fish Creek Provincial Park and other natural areas in Calgary. Outings are conducted by Gus Yaki, a lifelong naturalist who has birded around the world – and other experienced instructors. Each outing is approx. 2.5 hours, and the 15-week course starts Aug 29 and runs until Dec 11. Registration Required and fees apply. As a fundraiser for the Friends of Fish Creek, these courses will once again be conducted by volunteer instructor and lifelong naturalist Gus Yaki – and other knowledgeable and experienced volunteer instructors.

Fee: Once a week outing, Friends of Fish Creek Members: $60.00, Non-members: $100.00. 

Twice a week outings, Friends of Fish Creek Members: $100.00, Non-members: $150.00

Youth 16 years of age or younger with registered adult: $5.00

Friends of Fish Creek Membership rates are:

$35.00  –  Individual
$45.00  –  Family
$25.00  –  Senior (over 60)
$30.00  –  Senior Family

The membership year runs from October 1 to September 30 of the following year and Friends of Fish Creek members receive free admission to our monthly Speaker Series presentations at the Fish Creek Environmental Learning Centre, discounts on courses, a 10% discount at the Wild Bird Store and Kensington Art Supply, and a subscription to the Friends’ newsletter, Voice of the Friends.

See the registration page for the course here.

Winter Birding Course 2015

The Fall session of the Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park birding course has now wrapped up for another year, and once the Christmas Bird Count season ends, the Winter course will begin. This is a chance to get out to a local birding hotspot once a week with a group led by knowledgeable birders. Learn how to identify the winter birds of Calgary and, if you’re lucky, spot some rarities too.

Here is a link to all the information you need to join these outings: FFCPP Winter Birding Course

Winter is an ideal time for beginners to learn about the birds. There are no leaves on the trees, and fewer species around than in summer. Some of the winter birds occur in large flocks. Towards the end of the session, many of the spring migrants will be arriving.

 15916808891_d487030258_kGreat Horned Owl. Photo by Dan Arndt

Many of the leaders on these outings can also inform the participants about the history and the geology of our local parks, and can identify many of the plants, mammals, and mammal tracks that we encounter. In warmer weather, we also try to teach about the butterflies and other insects we see.

In the Fall course we collectively saw over 140 species of birds and 15 species of mammals, including Moose and Bobcat, all within the city limits. We hope to find these species and more in the Winter course.

 15492526437_4a233f2f0c_kBoreal Chickadee. Photo by Dan Arndt

Gus Yaki and the Friends of Fish Creek are hoping that more young people will get involved and begin to learn to appreciate nature. If you have a child, grandchild, niece or nephew who you would like to bring with you, they can register for only $5 for the whole session.

If you have any questions about the course please contact Chris at the Friends of Fish Creek, 403-238-3841 or email:  chris(at)friendsoffishcreek.org

Sign Up For the Autumn Birding Course

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Once again the Friends of Fish Creek will be offering the autumn birding course, starting the first week of September. This twelve-week course consists of weekly field trips to various parks and natural areas in the city. Each week your group of fifteen participants plus two instructors will meet at the designated spot and learn about the birds you see there. Dan Arndt and I will be leading one of the sessions again.

Field trips usually last between two-and-a-half and three hours (although some of the ones Dan and I led last year went up to four-and-a-half hours, when the participants were willing). There are sessions offered at seven different times during the week, and there may be up to fifteen groups all together, so anyone who interested should be able to find a time that suits them.  (If you occasionally find that you can’t make it out at the designated time due to another commitment, you have the flexibility to join another group that week so you don’t miss out).

A new wrinkle this fall is that we will be allowing any adult participant to also register one youth (sixteen years old or younger) to accompany them for only $5 for the whole course. We really want to encourage more young people to take up birding. We have had several young participants before but we hope the nominal fee will encourage even more youngsters to join us.

See the poster for details on how to register.

Fall 2013 Birding Course Poster (1151x882)

 

Winter Birding Course 2013

If you’ve been following Dan’s posts about the Friends of Fish Creek Birding Course outings and want to join in the fun and learn about Calgary’s birds, now is your chance!  Twelve weeks of field trips in a variety of parks in Calgary.  Sign up today as many sessions fill up quickly.

Spring Birding Course 2012

The Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society is once again offering a spring birding course which will run for twelve weeks, from April until late June.  The course consists of weekly field trips to many parks and natural areas within Calgary.  There are sessions offered on almost every day of the week.

For more information or to register, email chris@friendsoffishcreek.org or phone 403-238-3841.

Winter Birding Course

The best way to learn the birds of Calgary is to get out with other birders and explore the natural areas of the city.  Once again, The Friends of Fish Creek Park Society is offering birding courses starting in January 2012 and running through the end of April.  For more information or to register, email chris@friendsoffishcreek.org or phone 403-238-3841.