Tag Archive | fish creek provincial park

Update – Fall Birds in Carburn and Fish Creek Parks

We don’t often re-post material but we don’t often make two identification mistakes in the same post (I hope). Reid Barclay has pointed out that the bird I labelled “Swainson’s Thrush” is actually an Ovenbird, and Ron Kube says that the “Swainson’s Hawk” is a Broad-winged Hawk. I think they are both correct. In each case, I didn’t consider these less-common migrants here, and tried to fit the photos to my expectations. Sorry for the errors. We always welcome comments from our readers. – Bob Lefebvre

Tony LePrieur has another set of beautiful bird and mammal photos, taken on September 14, 2014. He says it is getting harder to find the birds, but there is still a good variety of species around.

From Carburn Park:

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Orange-crowned Warbler.

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Orange-crowned Warbler, actually showing the seldom-seen orange crown.

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Red-eyed Vireo.

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American Goldfinch.

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Cedar Waxwing (juvenile).

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Ovenbird.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler.

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Tennessee Warbler.

From Fish Creek Park:

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Broad-winged Hawk (juvenile).

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Belted Kingfisher (female).

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American Mink.

Waxwings, From Egg to Fledgling

This summer Tony LePrieur found a Cedar Waxwing nest in Fish Creek Park, and he managed to capture this amazing sequence of photos showing the young birds from hatching to fledging, over a period of sixteen days.

The nest was about three feet off the ground, in the Votier’s Flats area of Fish Creek Provincial Park. Tony was careful not to be intrusive, making four very short visits over a period of just over three weeks. Initially there were four eggs in the nest. Photos were taken with a Canon 60d and a 18-135 mm lens.

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As a bonus, I will post a photo of a slightly older juvenile Cedar Waxwing. It was spotted by Cicely Schoen hunkering down under a lawn chair in the Woodlands neighbourhood in SW Calgary during last week’s snowstorm. She calls it “The Original Angry Bird”.

The Original Angry Bird

“The Original Angry Bird” – Juvenile Cedar Waxwing.   Photo by  Cicely Schoen

Nikon 5100 with Nikkor lens 55-200mm.

Exploring new trails at Shannon Terrace

Posted by Dan Arndt

Last week’s walk took us to Shannon Terrace in search of a Mountain Chickadee that had been seen there the week prior. The main trail between Bebo Grove and Shannon Terrace was washed out in the floods last summer, and so instead of doing the usual route walking between the two areas of the park and back again, we explored a few trails that are part of the Fish Creek Provincial Park Single Track bike way, much of which I haven’t explored by foot or by bike.

Shannon Terrace March 9, 2014

Shannon Terrace
March 9, 2014

One of the most shocking things this time around was just how docile and downright tame the Boreal Chickadees were. Feeding from the tree stump feeding trays, from our hands a number of times, and flying out into the open. It may have had something to do with the temperatures being well above zero that kept them so actively feeding!

male Red-breasted Nuthatch Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

male Red-breasted Nuthatch
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

Boreal Chickadee Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

Boreal Chickadee
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

Aside from that though, things were about as one would expect on the west side of Fish Creek Park. We ran into a pair of Brown Creepers on one stretch of single-track but unfortunately I wasn’t able to snap any usable images of them. Moments later, we were nearly run into by some cyclists getting some of the intended use out of the single track, bombing down on us at full tilt. Can’t really blame them though. These particular trails were built for them!

Red Squirrel Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1250

Red Squirrel
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1250

We crossed the bridge and found a couple of Red Squirrels feeding on the left over seeds at one feeding station, and this particular fellow decided to pose nicely for us. Along this loop of trail we found a few more Boreal Chickadees, a few more Black-capped Chickadees, and not much else.

female Red-breasted Nuthatch Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

female Red-breasted Nuthatch
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

male Downy Woodpecker Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1250

male Downy Woodpecker
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1250

It wasn’t until we nearly reached the end of our walk when we had another flurry of activity nearby. A few Red-breasted Nuthatches were actively feeding on another feeding station log, while this male Downy Woodpecker tapped away on some nearby aspen.

Bohemian Waxwings Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 800

Bohemian Waxwings
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 800

At the western extent of our walk, just before turning back to head to the parking lot, a small flock of 75 Bohemian Waxwings flew by, chirping, cooing and calling in the air above us, giving us some of the better views our particular group has had of them so far this year!

Next week: Pearce Estate Park  and Prince’s Island Park, just outside of Calgary’s downtown core. Stay tuned, and good birding!

Bebo Grove is a winter wonderland

Posted by Dan Arndt

Week number nine of the Friends of Fish Creek Autumn Birding Course took us to Bebo Grove. With our typical Sunday flair, the snow was flying and the wind was blowing hard, but in the heavy boreal forest habitat of Bebo Grove the wind was a little less biting and the birds were as active as can be, as they were all in search of their next meal and just enough calories to get them through to the next day.

Our species counts have dropped significantly since the dog days of late summer, and with the Winter Finch Forecast for this coming winter, it’s going to be some sparse times for us birders out there this winter!

Bebo Grove - November 3, 2013

Bebo Grove – November 3, 2013

Bebo Grove - View from the parking lot Pentax K-30 + Sigma 18-250@18mm 1/125sec., ƒ/13, ISO 640

Bebo Grove – View from the parking lot
Pentax K-30 + Sigma 18-250@18mm
1/125sec., ƒ/13, ISO 640

Our first bird of the day, and the first seen this week by our group, was this lone Dark-eyed Junco, that greeted us at the parking lot. Hopefully they’ll be a little more common this winter in our birding areas with the absence of other finches and sparrows.

Dark-eyed Junco Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/125sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 200

Dark-eyed Junco
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/125sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 200

We entered the dense forest below and were immediately paused at the sound of Red and White-breasted Nuthatches, Boreal and Black-capped Chickadees, and even a Golden-crowned Kinglet or two. Of course we stopped for a few minutes to feed them and chatted a bit about their habits in the winter, and their amazing ability to memorize the locations of hundreds of seed caches throughout their territories.

Bebo Grove - Into the Boreal Forest Pentax K-30 + Sigma 18-250@18mm 1/125sec., ƒ/13, ISO 1600

Bebo Grove – Into the Boreal Forest
Pentax K-30 + Sigma 18-250@18mm
1/125sec., ƒ/13, ISO 1600

Black-capped Chickadee Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/400sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

Black-capped Chickadee
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/400sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

This male Red-breasted Nuthatch was noteworthy due to the significant and unusual white patches in the head and facial feathers. Whether this is an older male, or is expressing a very minor form of leucism, we may never know. At the very least though, we’ll be able to pick him out again next time we see him in a crowd!

Red-breasted Nuthatch Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@440mm 1/400sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

Red-breasted Nuthatch
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@440mm
1/400sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

We headed over to the riverbank, and along the way kept our eyes peeled for the American Three-toed Woodpecker or maybe even a Black-backed Woodpecker, but neither showed up for us.

Overlooking the Fish Creek

Overlooking the Fish Creek

We did happen to see this Rough-legged Hawk soaring high overhead though. Excuse the poor quality of the shot, there was plenty of blowing snow high above us… but even still, you can make out the very dark black wrist patches that are good identifiers for this species.

Rough-legged Hawk Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/400sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 160

Rough-legged Hawk
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/400sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 160

The real highlight of the day though was a small flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets who responded very strongly, and almost immediately to calls. This one male in particular came right down to eye-level and gave us quite an impressive territorial display!

Golden-crowned Kinglet Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

Golden-crowned Kinglet
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

Golden-crowned Kinglet Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

Golden-crowned Kinglet
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

Down the path just a little way were one of the more common feeding stations along this route, so we stopped and looked again, and I was thankfully able to find a nice female Downy Woodpecker and a Boreal Chickadee for my troubles!

Boreal Chickadee Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

Boreal Chickadee
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

female Downy Woodpecker Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

female Downy Woodpecker
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

After a little exploration a bit further to the west, we decided it best to call it a day. Thankfully we stopped at the end to chat a little, and were granted three more species just for luck, with a possible fourth! Our first large flock of Bohemian Waxwings flew into the trees a little to the west of us, while a small group of Ring-billed Gulls flew overhead. This last bird, a mystery raptor, gave a screeching call reminiscent of a Red-tailed Hawk, though we were undecided whether it was a Red-tailed or a Rough-legged Hawk. My one photo doesn’t really show too much detail, so I’m still undecided, but thought I’d post it here and review the comments!

Mystery Raptor Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 100

Mystery Raptor
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 100

Thanks again for reading, and good birding!

No snowbirds singing in the rain and snow this week at Votier’s Flats

Posted by Dan Arndt

 

It seems my curse has struck the Sunday birding group once again. While it had been predicted since Tuesday, at around 3 AM on Sunday morning the heavens opened up and it began to rain. As I left my house at about 8:15, the rain had turned to sleet, and on the drive down to Votier’s Flats, that sleet had turned to a heavy, wet snow, driven by a fairly constant wind.

 

I didn’t get too many photos this week, and only a handful of hardy walkers came along with us this morning as well, making today’s post of the few photos that did manage to turn out just a place-holder until a long-awaited Travel Tuesday post goes up tomorrow.

Thanks for your patience, and good birding!

Gus Yaki points out some distant deer to our two attendees who braved the weather Pentax K-30 + Sigma 18-250@18mm 1/50sec., ƒ/10, ISO 1250

Gus Yaki points out some distant deer to our two attendees who braved the weather
Pentax K-30 + Sigma 18-250@18mm
1/50sec., ƒ/10, ISO 1250

A trio of Mule Deer in the distance Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

A trio of Mule Deer in the distance
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

A pair of Gadwall in the heavy snow Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/320sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

A pair of Gadwall in the heavy snow
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/320sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

A brave Black-capped Chickadee takes a handout Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@150mm 1/320sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

A brave Black-capped Chickadee takes a handout
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@150mm
1/320sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

 

 

A return to normalcy at Lafarge Meadows

Posted by Dan Arndt

 

After last week’s almost complete washout for both bird life and weather conditions, it was nice to have relatively minimal wind, warm weather, and a clear transition to our normal autumn faunal assemblage that we’ve grown to expect here in Calgary.

This week we returned to part of my May Species Count territory, Lafarge Meadows. This was my second time back following the flood, and my first time back where there had been any bird life to speak of. I was also quite surprised that much of the cut bank of the river remained intact, rather than being completely eroded away. It seemed for the most part that the water level simply rose too fast to cut away much of the river bank before completely overwhelming it. Parts of our walk showed evidence of being under two meters of water or more, during the peak of the flooding.

That is not to say that the river bank was completely unscathed. A few areas of fresh outcrop were clearly visible, and a number of places where either old deadfall had been stripped away, pathways had been washed out, or the basins of both small and large ponds completely restructured were also quite numerous.

Lafarge Meadows (Note: This Google Earth image is from May 4, 2013, and doesn't reflect the change in the riverbed we saw on Sunday.)

Lafarge Meadows
(Note: This Google Earth image is from May 4, 2013, and doesn’t reflect the change in the riverbed we saw on Sunday.)

As we began our walk, it was clear that it was going to be a bit of a noisy day, as the European Starlings serenaded us any time we were near tree cover. The first two ponds gave us decent views of some waterfowl, including Gadwall, American Coots, Northern Shovelers and even a couple of Bufflehead, but the first really nice close looks we had at any new birds this season was this immature Bald Eagle that we first saw in the distance, then a little closer, until a few boaters flushed it off a high perch to give us this fly-by.

BAEA

immature Bald Eagle
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 800

Shortly after this fly-by, we scanned a distant gravel bar for some shorebirds, and managed to find a few Killdeer, a Greater Yellowlegs, and this Wilson’s Snipe… can you spot it?

Spot the Snipe! Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1250

Spot the Snipe!
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1250

One of the birds that seems to almost completely disappear in summer that is starting to re-appear in larger numbers are the American Wigeon, which we saw no small number of on our trek. The female American Wigeon has a very distinct rusty color on the breast and flanks, but the underbelly, which is usually only seen in flight, is a pale white.

female American Wigeon Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

female American Wigeon
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

A little further down the pathway, but also giving us nice close looks, was this female Blue-winged Teal. Teals in general show a much smaller profile in the water, and are much smaller than Mallards, Northern Shovelers, and nearly every other duck you might see, and the females are very hard to tell apart from each other. The Blue-winged Teal though, has a white patch near the base of the bill, which is absent in the Green-winged and Cinnamon Teal.

female Blue-winged Teal Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1250

female Blue-winged Teal
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1250

Another bird that didn’t seem to mind us coming in close to it was this Greater Yellowlegs. Note the slightly upturned bill, and that the bill length is about 1.5 times as long as the head is deep.

Greater Yellowlegs Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

Greater Yellowlegs
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

Shortly after Gus’ and a few of our other walkers had turned around, we were able to nab another species that they unfortunately had to miss. This little Merlin flew over the large pond, and then passed right in front of us, showing off its unique flight style in perfect form.

Merlin Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 400

Merlin
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/640sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 400

Our trip back seemed much faster than the walk down, even though we saw almost as many birds on our trip back, it’s always important to not double-count the birds. The other vital thing was that this time around, the birds seemed further away and didn’t allow for any photo opportunities whatsoever. That all changed as we came upon a lone young White-crowned Sparrow that was more than willing to pose for the camera.

immature White-crowned Sparrow Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

immature White-crowned Sparrow
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

And if that weren’t enough, just before we decided to pack it in for the day, we had a very generous Herring Gull fly in nice and low, showing off its pink legs and yellow bill with the small red mark on the lower mandible. How nice of it!

 

Herring Gull Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 320

Herring Gull
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 320

Thanks again for reading, and good birding. Until next week!

Fish Creek Big Day

Posted by Matthew Sim

So how many species of birds can you find in a single day in Fish Creek P.P.? Last year, I set out to find the answer. I turned up 93 species, 7 short of my goal of 100. This year, I was back out again, trying my luck once more.  Once again though, I fell short, managing to find a total of 89 species for the day.

American Wigeon

American Wigeon were common throughout the park.

I won’t write up too much here or I could have several pages of notes but I will point out some of the highlights, and of course, low points. Surprising this year was the lack of quite a few species that should have been easy to find. Notably, Osprey, Belted Kingfisher, Ruddy Duck, Tennessee Warbler, Forster’s Tern, Black Tern and Pied-billed Grebe were missing. Some of these were absent due to the (until quite recently), low water levels at the Lafarge Meadows sloughs. I had wondered why there were few birds at the sloughs and Dan helped me out by pointing out the fact that the sloughs had been quite low for the last few weeks, perhaps turning away some species.

Brewer's Blackbird

While I did have some surprising misses, I also found some good species, including the Brewer’s Blackbird above.

Clay-colored Sparrow

Although some of the common species such as Osprey were absent, most, including the Clay-colored Sparrow above and the American Goldfinch below were relatively easy to find.

Goldfinch

Then there were some species that I missed last year but were easy to find this year. I could not find any LeConte’s Sparrows last year but this year I managed to find nearly a dozen. This little guy posed nicely for a few minutes near the Ranch.

LeConte's Sparrow

Perhaps I forgot to mention too that it was an early start? I was at the park just before 5, when the songsters were just getting started.

Lincoln's Sparrow

Lincoln’s Sparrow

One of the many birds to be singing early on was the Red-eyed Vireo. These little birds sing nice and loud but can be very tricky to spot. Luckily for me, this one Red-eyed Vireo below sang right from the top of a poplar. So although he was easy to see, he was still a long way up!

Red-eyed Vireo

It was a good day and I’m looking forward to doing it again next year. I guess then it will have become the 3rd Annual Fish Creek Big Day…

Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper

Friends of Fish Creek Winter Birding, Week 6 – Lafarge Meadows

Posted by Dan Arndt

Some weeks are diamonds, and other weeks are coal. Or maybe just cold. And windy. After another week of warm, beautiful temperatures, it was about time for Old Man Winter to come charging through to assert his dominion over Calgary. Our visit to Lafarge Meadows was a cold one, and cut a little short due to the wind, keeping the bird activity to a relative minimum.

Lafarge Meadows, Fish Creek Provincial Park

 

Lafarge Meadows, Fish Creek Provincial Park

Lafarge Meadows, Fish Creek Provincial Park

Starting at the Boat Launch parking lot, we were treated to quite the show of four adult Bald Eagles flying over the river to the north, flushing up Mallards, Goldeneye, and even Canada Geese by the hundreds. All the while, the ducks and geese along the river near to us stayed put and granted us one gift of a Barrow’s Goldeneye.

We headed south under the bridges, and were once again treated to close flybys of an immature Bald Eagle, flushing up a few Mallards here, but nowhere near as many as the show the adults were putting on to the north.

immature Bald Eagle

immature Bald Eagle

One of our target birds was a lone male Northern Pintail, which had been seen in the company of Mallards just south of the bridges all week. While we didn’t get good views of it on our way south, a couple of us were given some very good looks on the way back north. Another immature Bald Eagle made a pass over the Mallards and Northern Pintail as our group passed them by, but after a few minutes, they all settled back down near the gravel bar to return to their rest. Unfortunately, many of our group opted to head for the shelter of the wooded areas around Sikome Lake to get out of the biting wind, but for those that missed it, here ‘s the Northern Pintail we saw today.

immature Bald Eagle buzzes the Mallards and Northern Pintail

immature Bald Eagle buzzes the Mallards and Northern Pintail

Just a few of the thousands of Mallards seen on, or flying over, the river today

Just a few of the thousands of Mallards seen on, or flying over, the river today

Wait a minute... those aren't all Mallards!

Wait a minute… those aren’t all Mallards!

And here is the standout Northern Pintail after preening and settling back down to rest. (Look at that bold bronze speculum!)

And here is the standout Northern Pintail after preening and settling back down to rest. (Look at that bold bronze speculum!)

We still had another bird we were hoping to find. A pair of Killdeer had been seen just about every day this week along the south stretch of the river, and we trekked on, despite the cold, but in the end, and after a good kilometer of searching and scanning the gravel bars and the far shore in vain, we admitted defeat. While I didn’t get a photo of it, we did get an incredible addition to our list, but our views were all to brief. A Prairie Falcon made a quick dart over the eastern valley wall, scanned the environs below, and after only a minute or two, headed back to the east.

As we began our trip back into the protection of the woods, a few of our old favourites made their appearances. The ever-present Black-capped Chickadees, a pair of White-breasted Nuthatches, and even a lone female Downy Woodpecker came to visit as we finished up our time with the Northern Pintail. I suspect she may have been waiting for the right time to photobomb the waterfowl!

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

See you again next week!



Friends of Fish Creek Winter Birding, Week 5 – Votier’s Flats

Posted by Dan Arndt

After a week of unseasonal sun and warmth, the mercury dipped down below zero again this morning, and with a bit of a north wind, made for a chilly trek through the park. Bob and I arrived a bit early to try to find signs of either the Northern Pygmy Owl or the American Three-toed Woodpecker that have been seen in the area but unfortunately came up empty handed, but were able to scout and find some signs of a few other species that we found with the larger group later on. We headed west from the parking lot, while Gus took his group south to look for some Pine Grosbeaks that had been seen earlier, only meeting up at the very end, despite following almost the exact same route.

The route through Votier's Flats and Bebo Grove

The route through Votier’s Flats and Bebo Grove

On our scouting trip, Bob and I found a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers working a series of dead poplar and spruce trees, and when we returned there with the group, they were joined by a third Pileated Woodpecker, which was quite an unexpected sight. There must have been some good eatin’ under the bark of those trees!

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

After incredible views of the Pileated Woodpeckers, along with a few Downy Woodpeckers, Black-capped Chickadees, and Red-breasted Nuthatches, we headed down the trail along Fish Creek in search of Townsend’s Solitaire’s which had been seen there the day before. We weren’t disappointed, as we spotted not one, but two individuals. This one, up above our heads, appeared to be displaying. As it flew off, the second one, not six feet away from us at waist level, followed it across the creek over into some low scrub.

Townsend's Solitaire

Townsend’s Solitaire

As these two flew off, we soldiered on, exploring the edge of the creek a little further west. One of our sharp-eyed attendees spotted a Northern Goshawk that flushed up from the creek bank, and we weren’t the only ones that spotted it. As it lighted on the far side of the river, it was almost immediately mobbed by a large contingent of Common Redpolls and House Finches.

Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk

As we continued on in search of our target species, we explored the next couple of bridges, and entered a large stand of old, tall spruce, which is where the American Three-toed Woodpecker was seen earlier this year. Sadly, we missed out on both that bird, as well as the Northern Pygmy Owl, so this posing Red-breasted Nuthatch will have to make up for that.

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch

On our trip back to the parking lot, our luck seemed to wane. The birds we saw were either in the distance, in the shade, or simply a little too out of the way to view properly, let alone photograph. As we neared the parking lot, a small herd of Mule Deer grazed along the hillside quite content to stare back at all the folks pointing their binoculars at them.

Mule Deer

Mule Deer

Once we got back to the parking lot, we thought it might be a good idea to go searching for those Pine Grosbeaks that were mentioned earlier. While we didn’t manage to find them, we did spot a couple of other woodpecker species that had eluded us earlier; the Hairy Woodpecker and the Northern Flicker, both working away at constructing nesting holes in the same dead tree.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

In our futile search, and as we neared the end of our walk, I heard the telltale wheezy “chick-dee” of the always welcome Boreal Chickadee. After playing a couple of recorded calls, a trio of them swooped in, investigated us for a few minutes, and then just as quickly flew off.

Boreal Chickadee

Boreal Chickadee

Next week we’ll be heading to the deep south of Lafarge Meadows, in the south east corner of Fish Creek Provincial Park in search of even more new species. See you then!

Migration at Hull’s Wood

Posted by Matthew Sim

Last week I rode my bike down to Hull’s Wood in Fish Creek P.P. twice to see how migration was coming along; I was not disappointed! As I rode through the woods both times, the chips of warblers and sparrows emanated from the trees and shrubs along the river. The woods were full of Yellow Warblers, Chipping Sparrows, House Wrens, Least Flycatchers and Warbling Vireos (not all of these were migrants) while several American Redstarts, Tennessee Warblers, Northern Waterthrushes and Baltimore Orioles were also present. There was also a single male Wilson’s Warbler, a single Yellow-rumped Warbler and a single Connecticut Warbler.

Least Flycatcher

Connecticut Warbler

Tennessee Warbler

This was all quite exciting but by 10:30 a.m. both days things quieted down for warblers so I went to Lafarge Meadows to check out shorebirds. Both days I found 6 species of shorebirds in Lafarge Meadows along the Bow River; Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer and Wilson’s Snipe.

Lesser Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

Migration is coming along well, so if you have the opportunity, get out there! There are lots of great spots in and around Calgary for migrating birds whether it be Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Confederation Park, Weed Lake, Fish Creek P.P. or your own yard, find your favorite spot for migration and sit back and enjoy the show!