Tag Archive | christmas bird counts

Christmas Bird Count Results, 2016-2017

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Another Christmas Bird Count season has come and gone, and tonight at the Nature Calgary Bird Study Group meeting you can get details about all the sightings on six of the counts in our area, plus the Fish Creek Park New Year’s Day count. You can get all the details on the meeting here.

Only 32 Common Redpolls were recorded on the Calgary count. Photo by Tony LePrieur.

This year we had our first ever Christmas Bird Count For Kids in Calgary, and they have added another one to be held this Saturday, January 14, from noon to 2 pm at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. This is a great way to get children interested in birding. For all the information and to register, see this page.

On the main Calgary Count, which was held on December 18th, 61 species were recorded, and about 39,000 individual birds. This is below our twenty-year average of 65 species and 50,000 birds, a result that was mostly attributed to the high winds we experienced that day.

There is always a bit of a friendly competition between Calgary and Edmonton in everything we do, and we like to come out ahead in the number of species found on our CBC’s. We usually do (they had 47 this year), but you can only find the species that are actually there, and it just happens to be the case that Calgary has a little more diversity in birds in the winter than Edmonton does. A better comparison between these two similar-sized cities would be participation in the counts. In that respect, I’m afraid to say, Edmonton always beats us, and it isn’t very close. We had 139 birders go out in the field this year, and they had 170. We had 107 Feeder-watchers report on their yard sightings, and they had 286!

Now is a good time, while it’s fresh in your mind and you’re not busy with Christmas preparations, to express your interest in taking part in next year’s count, to be held on Sunday, December 17, 2017. If you think you might like to go out with one of the groups please contact the organizer, Phil Cram, at crampj[at]telusplanet.net.

The territory that I am leader for, which includes the Inglewood Golf Course, Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Calgary Zoo, Pearce Estate, and some adjacent areas, is far too large for us to cover with the six or seven people we usually get out. If you’d like to join my group, email the blog and I’ll add you to my list of contacts.

I would particularly like to see more people involved in the Feeder-watcher program. If you think you might have a few minutes to count the birds in your yard that day, and if you live within the count circle shown below, please contact Donna Wieckowski at astolat[at]shaw.ca. We have a long way to go to catch up to Edmonton in Feeder-watchers! Don’t think that the birds you see in your yard aren’t important – they are an integral part of the bird fauna in the city. Often our only reports of birds like White-throated Sparrows, Harris’s Sparrows, and Varied Thrushes come from Feeder-watchers.

Expressing an interest now does not mean you are committed (it’s hard to plan for an event that is eleven months away) but it will at least get you on the list to get all the information when the time comes.

The Calgary Christmas Bird Count Circle.

Christmas Bird Counts, 2016-2017

The Calgary Christmas Bird Count (CBC), organized annually by Nature Calgary, will be held next Sunday, December 18. If you would like to participate, either by joining a group of birders in the field or by counting birds at your feeders, please see this Nature Calgary page for details.

There are many CBCs in the Calgary region. For a complete list, with contact emails for the organizers, see this page.

How many Pine Grosbeaks can you find in your CBC territory? Photo by Tony LePrieur, Weaselhead Nature Area, December 11, 2016.

This year, for the first time, there will be a CBC for Kids in Calgary. It will be held at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary on Saturday, December 17. There will be an indoor introduction to birding before the count. You must accompany your child for this activity.

The first CBC for Kids was held in California in 2007, and they are now common across North America.

If you can take your child, grandchild, niece or nephew out for a couple of hours next Saturday it will be a great way to introduce them to birding! Register by emailing naturekids(at)naturealbetrta.ca.

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Christmas Bird Counts – Part II

Posted by Dan Arndt

Just before Christmas I had to send my long lens (Sigma 150-500mm) in for repair, so am back to using my original birding lens, my Sigma 70-300mm. As such, I can’t get quite as close to the birds as I used to, but it does allow me to have a bit better control over framing more “artsy” shots, but also making do with what I’ve got to use, rather than relying on the reach of the lens to make the image better. I do hope that I managed to do that well with the few photos I was able to take on the Dinosaur Provincial Park Christmas Bird Count, and the annual New Years Day Fish Creek Provincial Park Bird Count.

While it’s a great area to bird in both the summer and winter, the day we headed out there (December 30) was bitterly cold, and it seemed that the birds were nowhere to be found. In previous years, there were a few groups covering the whole area, but this year Nick Bartok and I were the only two out on the count so we had to cover the entire count circle, giving us only enough time to see and hear the birds we could observe from the car. What that meant for us was that we would miss out on a lot of the smaller birds we usually would hear on a walked route, but it did mean we got to cover way more area.

The cold weather made shooting from the vehicle a little tough, with the heat distortion from the vehicle and from the heat radiating off the snow from the bright sunlight, but I managed a few shots.

Great Horned Owl, east of Patricia - December 30, 2015

Great Horned Owl, east of Patricia – December 30, 2015

::Aperture: ƒ/5.6|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 300mm|ISO: 80|Shutter speed: 1/640s|

One of the first good birds of the day was this Great Horned Owl that we stumbled upon while driving down one back road east of Patricia.

Sharp-tailed Grouse, east of Patricia - December 30, 2015

Sharp-tailed Grouse, east of Patricia – December 30, 2015

::Aperture: ƒ/8|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 300mm|ISO: 320|Shutter speed: 1/1000s|

Sharp-tailed Grouse, east of Steveville - December 30, 2015

Sharp-tailed Grouse, east of Steveville – December 30, 2015

::Aperture: ƒ/8|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 300mm|ISO: 500|Shutter speed: 1/1250s|

By far, the most numerous birds that we found on the Dinosaur Provincial Park count were Sharp-tailed Grouse. They seemed to be everywhere in the trees and shrubs nibbling on the buds for their breakfast and lunch!

Back in Calgary, the Fish Creek Provincial Park New Years Day Bird Count was a little bit (but not too much!) warmer, but we got a few good birds to start off the year.

Great Horned Owl - Fish Creek Provincial Park - January 1, 2016

Great Horned Owl – Fish Creek Provincial Park – January 1, 2016

::Aperture: ƒ/6.3|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 300mm|ISO: 3200|Shutter speed: 1/250s|

Brown Creeper - Fish Creek Provincial Park - January 1, 2016

Brown Creeper – Fish Creek Provincial Park – January 1, 2016

::Aperture: ƒ/6.3|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 300mm|ISO: 3200|Shutter speed: 1/200s|

At the Ranche, the usual pair of Great Horned Owls were present, along with a great opportunity to see the elusive Brown Creeper as the sun came over the horizon.

Sikome Lake - January 1, 2016

Sikome Lake – January 1, 2016

::Aperture: ƒ/8|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 70mm|ISO: 200|Shutter speed: 1/320s|

The snow covered poplars at Sikome Lake made for a great backdrop to see all these great birds.

Mallards, Geese, and a Wigeon - Hull's Wood - January 1, 2016

Mallards, Geese, and a Wigeon – Hull’s Wood – January 1, 2016

::Aperture: ƒ/8|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 300mm|ISO: 250|Shutter speed: 1/1600s|

Mallards in flight - Hull's Wood - January 1, 2016

Mallards in flight – Hull’s Wood – January 1, 2016

::Aperture: ƒ/8|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 300mm|ISO: 160|Shutter speed: 1/1600s|

Bald Eagle - Hull's Wood - January 1, 2016

Bald Eagle – Hull’s Wood – January 1, 2016

::Aperture: ƒ/8|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 300mm|ISO: 250|Shutter speed: 1/1600s|

The usual accumulations of waterfowl along the Bow River were no exception to the rule, and there were even a couple of great surprises in the water, including an American Wigeon, Barrow’s Goldeneye, and more than a few Common Mergansers. A couple of fly-bys of Bald Eagles flushed many of the birds up briefly, but they soon came back down into the water at the confluence of Fish Creek and the Bow River.

American Robin - Shaw's Meadow - January 1, 2016

American Robin – Shaw’s Meadow – January 1, 2016

::Aperture: ƒ/8|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 300mm|ISO: 500|Shutter speed: 1/400s|

Hermit Thrush - Shaw's Meadow - January 1, 2016

Hermit Thrush – Shaw’s Meadow – January 1, 2016

::Aperture: ƒ/8|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 300mm|ISO: 320|Shutter speed: 1/400s|

At the compilation lunch, Bob and I waited around to hear if there had been any particularly noteworthy observations, and when we heard that a Hermit Thrush and American Robins had been seen at the water outflow at Shaw’s Meadow, we headed over there right away. It took us a while of watching the American Robins and got to see them feeding in the water, and finally got a great look at the Hermit Thrush, but only briefly. Two shots later, it disappeared into the deep brush, but it was more than long enough to get a look at the bird, identify it, and snap a few frames.

While normally this post would be a recap of the first week of the Friends of Fish Creek outings, I was away for that first trip, so keep an eye out for my post next week for the birds from our second week out at Bebo Grove!

Have a great week, and good birding!

Christmas Bird Counting Part 1

Posted by Dan Arndt

This year I’ve taken part in a few Christmas Bird Counts so far, and still have two more to take part in this coming week. I’m breaking this post up into two parts mostly because I don’t know if I’ll get too many photos on these next two counts, but also because I’d have far too many to do it all in one post if I do manage to get some this week!

On Tuesday, December 15 I took part in the High River Christmas Bird Count, which was fairly warm, but also turned up some good birds. Our area came up with 22 species in 8 hours, but I didn’t really have the best opportunities to take many photos. The only three that were really any good were a shot of a male House Sparrow, a possible Hoary Redpoll (still needing confirmation of that ID, as this is the only shot I have of the bird, and a hardy little Muskrat that was foraging along the Little Bow River Canal.

male House Sparrow

male House Sparrow

::Aperture: ƒ/6.3|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 500mm|ISO: 250|Shutter speed: 1/500s|

Muskrat

Muskrat

::Aperture: ƒ/6.3|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 500mm|ISO: 800|Shutter speed: 1/400s|

Hoary Redpoll

Hoary Redpoll

::Aperture: ƒ/8|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 500mm|ISO: 1000|Shutter speed: 1/640s|

That following Saturday I headed out to my usual area for the Canmore Christmas Bird Count, up near the Highline Trail and around Quarry Lake. I expanded some of my search area this year along the base of Ha-ling Peak and around the very edge of the bottom-most series of Spray Lakes reservoir. Sadly we didn’t have quite the number of species (or even the number of birds) as we had last year, and a few reliable species were not to be found either, so it was a little bit of a disappointing turn out until later in the day. A little after noon we found a good number of our birds down in and around the spruce and pine trees in the Rundleview neighborhood.

female Elk

female Elk

::Aperture: ƒ/6.3|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 500mm|ISO: 1600|Shutter speed: 1/320s|

Mountain Chickadee

Mountain Chickadee

::Aperture: ƒ/6.3|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 500mm|ISO: 1600|Shutter speed: 1/400s|

Clark's Nutcracker

Clark’s Nutcracker

::Aperture: ƒ/8|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 500mm|ISO: 1600|Shutter speed: 1/640s|

Pine Siskins

Pine Siskins

::Aperture: ƒ/6.3|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 500mm|ISO: 1600|Shutter speed: 1/320s|

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

::Aperture: ƒ/6.3|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 500mm|ISO: 160|Shutter speed: 1/320s|

A meandering drive home that afternoon ended up still missing out on a good number of additional species, but it was early to bed and early to rise for the Calgary Christmas Bird Count the following day, where we had a bit better luck. Once again we covered almost exactly 13 kilometers between 9 AM and 4:30 PM, and turned up the usual species, and while we had a couple of bonus bird species, the three we were specifically targeting, Purple Finch, Ruffed Grouse, and Northern Goshawk, were nowhere to be found. We did happen to find the only American Goldfinch found during the count, as well as a couple of definitive Hoary Redpolls, and of course had great looks at the Pine Grosbeaks, Common Redpolls and even a Northern Shrike made an appearance early in the day!

Northern Shrike

Northern Shrike

::Aperture: ƒ/8|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 500mm|ISO: 640|Shutter speed: 1/400s|

Common (left) and Hoary (right) Redpolls

Common (left) and Hoary (right) Redpolls

::Aperture: ƒ/8|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 500mm|ISO: 1600|Shutter speed: 1/400s|

Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak

::Aperture: ƒ/8|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 500mm|ISO: 800|Shutter speed: 1/640s|

Common Redpolls

Common Redpolls

::Aperture: ƒ/8|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 500mm|ISO: 1600|Shutter speed: 1/640s|

male House Finch

male House Finch

::Aperture: ƒ/8|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 500mm|ISO: 1600|Shutter speed: 1/640s|

Hoary (top) and Common (bottom) Redpolls

Hoary (top) and Common (bottom) Redpolls

::Aperture: ƒ/8|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 500mm|ISO: 1600|Shutter speed: 1/640s|

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

::Aperture: ƒ/8|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 500mm|ISO: 320|Shutter speed: 1/640s|

I hope your Christmas and New Year are just as happy as mine have been, and I hope to have many more birds to share with you in the New Year!