There is still time to register to take part in the Winter 2018 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.
White-winged Crossbill, Weaselhead Nature Area, February 7, 2016. Photo by Tony LePrieur.
Field trips are held in several parts of Fish Creek Park, in Carburn Park, the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, the Weaselhead Nature Area, Bowmont Park, Griffith Wood 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.
Follow the Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society on Facebook.
For many years Nature Calgary has held a Big Day on the Victoria Day holiday – an attempt to find as many species as possible in one day, in this case all of them inside the Calgary city limits (we had 116 species this year). During the 2015 Calgary Birding Competition we decided to add a Big Day in the Calgary Region–the 80-km diameter circle centred in Calgary. We did the trip again last year. In both cases we saw lots of good birds (151 species in 2015, and 132 in 2016) but it is a long day with quite a few dead stretches of driving.
Great Gray Owl, one of two seen on our 80-km Circle Big Day in 2016. Horse Creek Road, June 18, 2016. Photo by Saravana Moorthy.
For this year, we decided to try something new: A Big Week instead of a Big Day in the 80-km circle. There will be a series of field trips offered from June 4 to 10, and we will try to reach a cumulative total of 175 species on these trips.
Most of the trips will be led by myself, Andrew Hart, and Rose Painter. We will kick it off with a day-long trip to the northwest corner of the circle, around Water Valley, on Sunday June 4. The final day will feature another long trip to the south and southwest. Both of these trips require registration because car-pooling will be required and spaces will be limited.
There will also be several field trips offered during the week, including trips inside the city to the Weaselhead and Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. A couple of other trips will be Twitch ‘n’ Tours, our term for for a field trip with a known starting point but for which the destinations are not decided until the last minute, so that we can chase rare birds or ones we have not been able to find so far.
If you want to see how many species you can find in the Calgary region in one week in June, join us for some or all of these outings. See the Nature Calgary field trip page for details and to register.
Ethan Denton is an accomplished young birder who lives in Canmore, an hour west of Calgary at the entrance to Banff National Park. We have birded together and it has has been a pleasure to get to know him and his family. Ethan has had a blog for a few years already called Bird Boy. Although he is just thirteen years old, he has organized the Canmore Christmas Bird Count for the past two years. He also takes part in the Great Canadian Birdathon, and you can sponsor him at this page.
Lincoln’s Sparrow, April 27, 2017, West Banff Townsite. Photo by Ethan Denton.
Now Ethan has begun to lead birding field trips in Canmore every week. Every second Sunday morning, there will be an informal birding walk along Policeman’s Creek in Canmore. This is one of the best locations in Canmore. Ethan had recorded over 100 species there.
Below is the information poster. Use the scrollbar on the right-hand side to see the whole page.
The next walk is on Sunday May 21. The walks are free and everyone (children included) is welcome. So if you are a Canmore-area birder, or an interested Calgary-area birder, please join Ethan and see some birds like these:
Wood Duck pair, Canmore boardwalk, April 9, 2017. Photo by Ethan Denton.
Pileated Woodpecker, Canmore boardwalk, March 18, 2017. Photo by Ethan Denton.
Hammond’s Flycatcher, Canmore boardwalk, April 27, 2017. Photo by Ethan Denton.
Hammond’s Flycatchers are uncommon in Canmore in the summer, so an early spring record is almost unique. This is a bird we don’t see in Calgary.
Cassin’s Finch (female), April 27, 2017, West Banff Townsite. Photo by Ethan Denton.
Cassin’s Finch is only rarely seen in Calgary.
Ethan will post about each walk on his blog afterwards, so check back there to see what they have spotted and to see more of Ethan’s photos.
If you are out in the mountain parks this summer, note that there are also twice-weekly bird walks held at the Cave and Basin in Banff, run by the Bow Valley Naturalists. If you are out there on Saturday or Monday mornings, join them. Information here.
Next Saturday, June 18, Andrew Hart, Rose Painter and I will lead the 2nd annual Calgary Region Big Day field trip for Nature Calgary. This is an all-day trip to find as many species as possible within the 80-km-radius circle centered on Calgary. Our modest goal is 125 species.
As you can see from the map below the area is huge, and we can’t visit all good habitats in a single day. We will be focusing on a few good spots and trying to keep the pace fast to give us flexibility towards the end of the day.
The Calgary Region 80-km Circle.
We will begin our day at 5:30 am in NW Calgary. This is kind of a late start for a Big Day at this time of year, so we need people to arrive on time or a little early. Note that registration is required – please call one of the leaders to let them know you are coming, so we know when everyone has arrived and can plan the car-pooling. The trip details and phone numbers are on the Nature Calgary website here.
Our destinations will include Horse Creek Road, several stops in the Water Valley area, Plumber’s Road and Brown-Lowery Provincial Park, Windy Point west of Turner Valley, and Frank Lake. There may be more stops after that if there is time. We plan to be back at the starting point by no later than 8 pm. If anyone cannot stay for the whole day we will try to arrange the car-pooling to accommodate that.
Bobolink – one of our target birds for the Big Day. Photo by Dan Arndt.
Nature Calgary field trips are free and open to everyone; you don’t have to be a member of Nature Calgary to attend. We hope that some birders will have their biggest day ever, and there is always a chance to see some birds that are new to you, and to learn about some new birding locations in the Calgary area.