Tag Archive | Fish Creek Park

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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Sunday Showcase: Late Winter Birds

Spring is here and the new migrants are showing up daily, but here is another look at some of the winter birds seen in Fish Creek Park and the Weaselhead Nature Area in Calgary. All photographs by Tony LePrieur.

The photos below were taken in Fish Creek Park on February 17, 2014.

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Great Gray Owl, Bebo Grove.

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Boreal Chickadee.

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Black-capped Chickadee.

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Golden-crowned Kinglet.

These shots of the Three-toed Woodpecker in Bebo Grove were taken on February 23, 2014.

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The remaining photos below were taken on February 23, 2014 in the Weaselhead.

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Great Horned Owl.

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Boreal Chickadee.

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American Tree Sparrow.

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Dark-eyed Junco.

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Golden-crowned Kinglet.

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House Finch.

Sunday Showcase: Winter Waxwings, Kinglet, and Chickadee

Tony LePrieur photographed these birds in Fish Creek Park on December 15, 2013.

Bohemian Waxwings:

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Golden-crowned Kinglet:

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Boreal Chickadee:

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Sunday Showcase: Three-toed Woodpecker

Tony LePrieur found this male American Three-toed Woodpecker, and other birds, in Fish Creek Park on December 8.

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American Three-toed Woodpecker (male)

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Boreal Chickadee

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Black-capped Chickadee

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White-breasted Nuthatch

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Red-breasted Nuthatch

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Downy Woodpecker (female)

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Downy Woodpecker (male)

Sunday Showcase: Birds and Mammals of Fish Creek Park

All of the photos below were taken by Tony LePrieur in Fish Creek Park on November 3, 9, and 11.

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Wednesday Wings: Mergansers and More

These great photos were taken by Larry Doucet in Fish Creek Park in September. They were taken along the creek in the Glennfield area, just east of Macleod Trail.

Fish Creek Merganser 1

Common Merganser, Sep 21, 2013. Canon Rebel T4i. Lens: Canon EF75-300mm at 300mm. Exposure: 1/400 sec, f5.6, ISO 100, aperture priority, spot metering, spot auto focus

Fish Creek Merganser 2

Common Merganser, Sep 21, 2013. Canon Rebel T4i. Lens: Canon EF75-300mm at 300mm. Exposure: 1/640 sec, f5.6, ISO 100, aperture priority, spot metering, spot auto focus

Fish Creek Merganser 3

Common Merganser, Sep 21, 2013. Canon Rebel T4i. Lens: Canon EF75-300mm at 300mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec, f5.6, ISO 100, aperture priority, spot metering, spot auto focus

Fish Creek Merganser 4

Common Merganser, Sep 21, 2013. Canon Rebel T4i. Lens: Canon EF75-300mm at 300mm. Exposure: 1/800 sec, f5.6, ISO 100, aperture priority, spot metering, spot auto focus. This one was taken through some trees to see if I could get a blurred frame around the bird.  She came right into a spot of sunlight just as I was ready for her.

Fish Creek Chickadee 1

Black-capped Chickadee, Sep 29, 2013. Canon Rebel T4i. Lens: Canon EF75-300mm at 180mm. Exposure: 1/400 sec, f5.0, ISO 200, aperture priority, spot metering, spot auto focus

Fish Creek Chickadee 2

Black-capped Chickadee, Sep 29, 2013. Canon Rebel T4i. Lens: Canon EF75-300mm at 180mm. Exposure:  1/500 sec, f5.0, ISO 200, aperture priority, spot metering, spot auto focus

Fish Creek White Breasted Nuthatch

 White-breasted Nuthatch, Sep 29, 2013. Canon Rebel T4i.  Lens: Canon EF75-300mm at 300mm. Exposure: 1/800 sec, f5.6, ISO 800, aperture priority, spot metering, spot auto focus

Sunday Showcase: Black-backed Woodpecker

The highlight of the 2013 New Year’s Day Bird Count in Fish Creek Park was the rediscovery of a Black-backed Woodpecker, first reported in the area on December 19, 2012. These birds are seldom seen in the Calgary region – I believe it is at least five years since the last one was seen inside the city. On the afternoon of January 1st, I went to the Marshall Springs area to look for it. Luckily for me, Ursula Krol, who had found it in the morning , had returned and found it again.

Photos by Bob Lefebvre

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New Year’s Day Bird Count 2013

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Once again I participated in the Fish Creek Park half-day bird count on New Year’s Day. Though not an official Christmas Bird Count, it is now in its 20th year.  Six teams spent the morning counting birds in different parts of this huge park, and then we met at noon to compile the results.

This year I joined Phil Cram’s team in the east end of the park.  We covered the Bow Valley Ranch, Sikome, LaFarge Meadows, and Hull’s Wood areas.

It was a beautiful mild sunny day, but we found it pretty quiet when we started at Bow Valley Ranch. We did have six White-tailed Deer pass through before sunrise.

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The first mammal of the day – and year.

We failed to find any roosting Great Horned Owls in the row of spruces, and it took a while before we heard even a chickadee. Eventually we heard some White-winged Crossbills in the tall spruces.

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Yes, there are crossbills in this photo.

Next we heard the high-pitched call of the Brown Creeper, and found four of them in the area.

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Brown Creeper.

Heading over to Sikome, we quickly found the two Great Horned Owls that roost there every winter in the trees behind the buildings.

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There are two owls here – one of them is doing its spruce-bark impersonation.

Again, the area was pretty quiet.  We did get a flicker and this Downy Woodpecker (but failed to find a Hairy Woodpecker or White-breasted Nuthatch, which are often seen there).

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Downy Woodpecker.

Over at the Boat Launch we had four White-breasted Nuthatches, and a flyover of a young Bald Eagle.

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Immature Bald Eagle.

On the river we failed to find anything besides Canada Geese, Mallards, Common Goldeneyes, Buffleheads, and Common Mergansers. We had hoped for Killdeer, Barrow’s Goldeneyes, and perhaps some other species of ducks.

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Mallards on the ice.

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Canada Goose flying over.

At the highway 22X bridge we checked for Rock Pigeons – in these bird counts every new species is important. You never know if any of the other groups will see one or not.

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Rock Pigeon, with colours that match the rust on the bridge.

Our final stop of the morning was at Hull’s Wood, where we saw a staggering number of Mallards – about 8000 (some of them were outside our territory and were counted by another group of birders). Again, there were few other species except the usual.

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Our best bird of the day was the last, a Northern Goshawk that was being harassed by magpies on the hillside.  We didn’t get great looks (and no photos) before it departed.

In the end we had 19 species of birds (and four mammals – Coyote, Eastern Gray Squirrel, and White-tailed Jackrabbit in addition to the deer). A good start to the new year.

Friends of Fish Creek – Autumn Birding Course – Week 3, Mallard Point

Posted by Dan Arndt

This week, the Friends of Fish Creek course set out for Mallard Point. Located at the far east end of Fish Creek Provincial Park, it abuts the largest island on the Bow River in Calgary, Poplar Island, which is off-limits to the public, but is viewable from the pathways on both sides of the Bow River. We started at the Mallard Point parking lot, walked north along the river, crossed over the bridge, and to the south-east, parallel to Poplar Island. In total, we discovered 36 species in our three hours along the river, all of which gave us incredible looks at them and were amazing to see, as always, and remember, if you want to see a bigger version of the photos in the blog, just click for a full-sized version!

Mallard Point Map

Mallard Point

As we all collected at the parking lot, the consistent racket of a group of 12 Greater Yellowlegs just over the ridge in the flood channel of the Bow River that separates Poplar Island from the rest of Fish Creek Park, and these four decided to ham it up for the photographers of the group, posing close in and making sure everyone got a satisfying look at them.

Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

We headed up to the river to see what birds we could see on the Bow, or flying over it, but the star of the show was this small Northern Pike, who seemed just as interested in staring at us as we were in staring at it.

She Ain't Pretty (she just looks that way)

Northern Pike

After crossing the bridge and exploring a bit of the east side of the river, we set our eyes on the small pond that originates from a storm water outflow from the Douglasdale community, and found a fairly large group of American Wigeon joined by a solo female Northern Shoveler.

American Wigeon

American Wigeon

While I’m not an expert on gulls, I enjoyed the plethora of plumages visible on the gravel bar just south of the second storm-water outflow into the Bow. We saw adult versions of the three most common species of white-headed gulls out there, those being Ring-billed Gulls, California Gulls, and Herring Gulls. I believe we saw juvenile versions of all three of those gulls as well, though I could always be mistaken!

juvenile Ring-billed Gull

juvenile Ring-billed Gull

juvenile Herring Gull

juvenile Herring Gull

juvenile California Gull

juvenile California Gull

We continued on south-east, and saw one of the harbingers of the change of seasons; a breeding plumaged male Downy Woodpecker. It seems all spring and summer that these guys simply went into hiding, but the last few weeks they’ve reappeared like magic!

male Downy Woodpecker

male Downy Woodpecker

One of the highlights of my day at least was seeing this beautiful Orange-crowned Warbler, who, along with a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Gray Catbird, and about ten Yellow-rumped Warblers were found near the southern-most extent of our walk in the brush, chipping and whistling away while we strained our eyes to find just who was calling in the bushes.

Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Onward we trekked, and as we neared the furthest point of our walk, we were greeted by another gorgeous sight of a group of Mallard ducks, one of which being a male just coming back into his breeding plumage and showing off the broad violet speculum on his wing while stretching his legs, and in amongst the Mallards was another female Northern Shoveler.

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male Mallard duck

male Mallard (bottom left) and female Northern Shoveler (top right)

male Mallard (bottom left) and female Northern Shoveler (top right)

It seemed a fitting end to the walk as we began to head back that many of our other friends from the summer would see us off. There were no small number of Meadowhawk dragonfly species flitting about as the sun warmed them up, and a handful of damselflies as well, but most noticeable was that their numbers were significantly less than last week, and far less than earlier in the summer. I do hope they hold on a while longer, as I always enjoy seeing and hearing them flit about, but it’s just a matter of time before the temperatures drop and the last of them dies out for another year.

Black Meadowhawk dragonfly

Black Meadowhawk dragonfly

As we neared the bridge, and our walk was nearly at an end, we were gifted with just one more species as this Osprey flew overhead. I sure hope he didn’t see our Northern Pike from earlier in the day!

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Osprey

That’s all for now. Next week, Carburn Park!