Tag Archive | Northern Goshawk

Late Winter Birds

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

It’s spring on the calendar and new migrants are arriving daily. Some of our winter birds have departed, and some of our resident birds are beginning to nest. Here are some photos of birds of late winter in Calgary. All photos by Tony LePrieur.

Bohemian Waxwing, Calgary, February 19, 2017.

Bohemian Waxwings are only here in the winter. Since mid-March only small flocks have been reported. Most have departed to the north and to higher elevations. By the end of April they all will be gone.

Mountain Chickadee, Weaselhead, Calgary, March 12, 2017.

Mountain Chickadees are only occasionally seen inside the city, and most often in the west end where the boreal forest creeps in. This winter there were several seen in the Weaselhead and in Fish Creek Park. They are usually absent in the summer, as they breed west of the city.

Pine Grosbeak (female), Calgary, February 19, 2017.

Pine Grosbeak are one of our winter finches and they were here in low numbers this winter. They move to higher elevations and to the north in the summer.

Downy Woodpecker, Weaselhead, Calgary, March 12, 2017.

Downys are one of our resident woodpeckers and they have been paired up for at least a month, and are now beginning to nest.

Northern Flicker (male intergrade Yellow-shafted/Red-shafted), Calgary, February 19, 2017.

Northern Flickers are also woodpeckers, but are migratory. However, many overwinter here, which may include local birds or ones from farther north. They are currently pairing up for nesting, and it is common to hear their calls and drumming (they often drum on metal chimneys or street lights).

Most of the local flickers are intergrades of the two subspecies (Red-shafted and Yellow-shafted) and they often show mixed field marks, as this bird does.

American Robin, Fish Creek Park, Calgary, March  4, 2017.

Robins are of course migratory, but there are always some (a few dozen to a couple hundred) that overwinter in the city. This bird, seen on March 4 with seven others, probably overwintered since it was a little too early for the migrants to return. Unusually, this looks like a female – most overwintering birds are males, trying to get an advantage in getting to breeding grounds earlier. Now, in early April, there are many migrating robins back, but they are almost all males, either passing through or claiming territories here. The females arrive later.

Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored subspecies), Calgary, March 4, 2017.

These native sparrows overwinter here in good numbers, and for a few weeks more there will be many migrants passing through. They breed here in the boreal forest and are far more common west of the city and farther north in the summer.

Pine Siskin, Calgary, March 4, 2017.

Siskins usually breed in coniferous forests (including in parts of Calgary), but when not breeding they move erratically around the continent in search of food. They are sometimes here in large numbers in the summer, and sometimes completely absent.

Black-capped Chickadee, Calgary, March 4, 2017.

A resident bird, they are paired up and beginning to nest now.

Finally, here are three shots of the immature Northern Goshawk from Queen’s Park Cemetery.

Northern Goshawk, Queen’s Park Cemetery, Calgary, February 12, 2017.

Northern Goshawk, Queen’s Park Cemetery, Calgary, February 12, 2017.

Northern Goshawk, Queen’s Park Cemetery, Calgary, February 19, 2017.

Goshawks are not common in Calgary but can be seen year-round. However, they breed in high-canopied mixed forests so adults are usually found at higher elevations and farther north in the summer. They are more commonly seen here in the winter.

Birding Locations: Queen’s Park Cemetery

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Northern Goshawk, Queen’s Park Cemetery, January 28, 2017. All photos by Tony LePrieur, all taken at Queen’s Park Cemetery..

One of the smaller and perhaps underappreciated birding locations in Calgary is Queen’s Park Cemetery, located just northwest of Confederation Park near 4th Street and 40 Avenue NW.

Queen’s Park Cemetery.

The cemetery contains a great number of spruce trees, so it attracts many of the species that prefer to feed in or on those trees, such as the winter finches. Many other species of birds and mammals can also be found there, due to the presence of a creek which stays open year-round. The creek runs along the north end, and is bordered by the thickest growth of trees in the cemetery, both coniferous and deciduous.

Detail, north end of Queen’s Park Cemetery, showing the trees which border the creek.

Within the cemetery parking is limited, and it is best to park outside and walk in, or pull completely off one of the roads to park while allowing other vehicles room to pass. Stay away from funeral processions and ceremonies, of course.

The best birding tends to be where the trees are thickest, though you can find Black-capped Chickadees and Red-Breasted Nuthatches wherever there are trees. Crossbills also tend to move around the park (and into the surrounding neighbourhoods). In some years, Brown Creepers and Golden-crowned Kinglets are very common. A stroll along the roads can usually turn up a few of these in the winter.

Brown Creeper, November 15, 2015.

Golden-crowned Kinglet, November 1, 2015.

Black-capped Chickadee, November 1, 2015.

Pine Siskin, October 25, 2015.

The water that flows through the north end draws many birds to drink, feed, and bathe.

Sharp-shinned Hawk, January 15, 2017.

Sharp-shinned Hawk, January 15, 2017.

Another Sharp-shinned Hawk (or the same one from ten months before?), March 6, 2016.

Sharp-shinned Hawk, March 6, 2016.

Queen’s Park is one of the best places to find crossbills. This year there are few in the city, but White-winged Crossbills have been reported there recently.

White-winged (left) and Red Crossbills, November 15, 2015.

Also November 15, 2015.

Common Redpoll, October 25, 2015.

 Dark-eyed Junco, October 25, 2015.

Black-billed Magpie and Great Horned Owl, October 25, 2015.

This may be the same young Northern Goshawk as in the first photo, taken a week earlier, January 22, 2017.

Queen’s Park Cemetery is home to several mammal species as well. Coyotes den there, and White-tailed Jackrabbits and Eastern Gray Squirrels are common.

White-tailed Jackrabbit, December 18, 2016.

White-tailed Jackrabbit, January 22, 2017.

Coyote, January 15, 2017.

So far, eighty-two bird species have been reported here on eBird. That is a pretty good total for a park that isn’t on the river. Sightings in the past week include Rough-legged Hawk, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Brown Creeper, White-winged Crossbill, and Pine Siskin. Get out and add to the total!

Some Spring Sparrows at Mallard Point

Posted by Dan Arndt

Our outing on March 15, 2015 was a bit chillier than we’ve been accustomed to the past few weeks, but it didn’t dampen our spirits on the slightest. In fact, we had quite a few new spring arrivals to keep us busy in the park, and to keep our eyes and ears attentive all morning long!

Mallard Point - 3-15-2015

Mallard Point – March 15, 2015

Sometimes it takes just the right light and the right conditions to make a relatively normal and common bird stand out. It was no different with the Mallards we saw occasionally at their namesake area in Fish Creek Provincial Park. With their bright green iridescent heads, bright yellow bills and curly tail feathers, they do take on a character of their own in the spring!

male Mallard Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@150mm 1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

male Mallard
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

We were also greeted along our walk by quite a number of American Robins feeding in the nearby trees. Some on some Mountain Ash, some on local crab apple trees, and a few just sitting pretty and singing away. It’s really nice to see these guys back again! Pretty much all of the American Robins we found were males, which is exactly what we’d expect this time of year as they return from their overwintering grounds and establish territories. It’s usually the first early birds on the block that get the most coveted territories, so for them it pays to stay as close to ones own breeding grounds as possible. While many non-birders consider them the true harbinger of spring, it’s a well documented fact that there are quite a few of them that spend the winter right here in Calgary!

American Robin Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@150mm 1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 640

American Robin
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 640

On the other hand, it’s relatively uncommon for us to have any gulls stick around over winter. They usually depart in mid- to late- November and return in early March. The two species that tend to show up the soonest are both the Ring-billed and the California Gull, both of which were present on the Bow River on our walk that Sunday morning.

Ring-billed Gull Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@150mm 1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1250

Ring-billed Gull
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1250

California Gull Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@150mm 1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

California Gull
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

We were delighted to find a couple of surprises on our walk though as well, the first being a lone Song Sparrow, giving chip calls and high pitched “seep” calls while it foraged under the overhanging sections of the river bank, and in a small willow nearby. While it didn’t sing, it did respond to both pishing and a quick call playback by popping up into view allowing a few of us to get both good looks, and a few good close pictures of it!

Song Sparrow Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

Song Sparrow
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

The second was a White-throated Sparrow hanging around a yard full of typical feeder birds, both House Sparrows and House Finches. Once again it was the diagnostic chip notes that made its presence known to us, and it did take a little while to pick it out from the underbrush. Once we had it found though, a little playback of chip notes and a bit of pishing brought it out into the open as well!

White-throated Sparrow Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@150mm 1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

White-throated Sparrow
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

On the last leg of our journey one of our group drew our attention to a hawk-shaped outline in the trees bordering on the edge of the park. Its large size and relatively identifiable coloration pointed out the species to us right away, it’s just unfortunate that a couple of walkers passed right underneath it and flushed it from its perch just as we were getting into the open. Hopefully you can make the ID on this bird as well as we were able to!

Northern Goshawk Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@150mm 1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

Northern Goshawk
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@150mm
1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

It seems like every week more and more birds are arriving back in our beautiful city, and soon the leaves will be out on the trees and the warblers, vireos, and flycatchers of summer will be nesting, laying eggs, and raising their young!

Have a good week, and good birding!

 

Mammals abound at Votier’s Flats

Posted by Dan Arndt

Last week’s outing at Votier’s Flats was rather incredible. With extremely warm, spring-like temperatures, it seemed that things were really going to start picking up. Mammals were all active and out of their winter slumber (or at least their winter shyness), and a few birds even looked like they were preparing to begin their preparations for nesting!

Votier's Flats March 8, 2015

Votier’s Flats
March 8, 2015

Early on, I got separated from our group and took a little detour, only to find one of the White-tailed Deer that are resident to this area of the park stopped right in the middle of the pathway in front of me. I probably should have taken this as a cue that a group of fifteen people hadn’t just walked by this way, but what can I say? Daylight Saving Time had just occurred the night before, and maybe I was a little bit tired from losing an hour’s sleep. Either way, this deer didn’t really even seem to mind my presence this close to her, so I took the opportunity to take a portrait.

White-tailed Deer Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@150mm 1/320sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

White-tailed Deer
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@150mm
1/320sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

After a few missed directions and a bit of miscommunication, I did finally find our group just as this little American Mink came out of hiding and scampered across the ice in front of us.

American Mink Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/320sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

American Mink
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/320sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

American Mink Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/320sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

American Mink
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/320sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

The morning was still quite good for birds though, but it seemed that being out and about so early in the day made the mammal observations come rapid fire. Around the corner and a little west from where we spotted the mink, we found this Snowshoe Hare, entirely frozen in place as we walked by, only to run off as soon as the last of our group passed by it.

Snowshoe Hare Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/200sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

Snowshoe Hare
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/200sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

Snowshoe Hare Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/320sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

Snowshoe Hare
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/320sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600

As we came out of the woods and into a small clearing, we had some great views of a Townsend’s Solitaire, who responded quite readily to a recorded call, giving us some of the best views any of us had ever had of this beautifully grey bird.

Townsend's Solitaire Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/7.1, ISO 800

Townsend’s Solitaire
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/7.1, ISO 800

Townsend's Solitaire Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 400

Townsend’s Solitaire
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 400

We walked for a while in the mixed woods of this part of Fish Creek Provincial Park seeing or hearing the occasional distant woodpecker, raven, or flyover of geese, but we did stop for a few minutes below Raven Rocks to observe a few Canada Geese who appeared to be picking out nest spots right on the edge of the sandstone outcrops of the Porcupine Hills formation.

Canada Goose Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 400

Canada Goose on the rocks
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 400

As we reached the westernmost part of our walk before turning and heading to finish out our day, we scanned the trees for Northern Pygmy Owls, Northern Goshawks, or any of the other typical birds we find in that area, and sure enough we found an immature Northern Goshawk flying far above us, circling a nearby neighborhood.

Northern Goshawk Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 250

Northern Goshawk
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 250

Thanks again for reading, and good birding!

Birds of the Boreal in Shannon Terrace

Posted by Dan Arndt

Shannon Terrace always brings back memories of some of my first days being involved with the Friends of Fish Creek, monitoring the Wandering and Red-sided Garter Snakes at the protected hibernaculum beside the Environmental Learning Center. In the winter, there are often some really great birds in this area, but in most cases not in great numbers, or with significant diversity. This can be a great place to find American Dippers, near Bridge 1, Northern Pygmy and Northern Saw-whet Owls near Bridge 2, as well as Gray Jays and Mountain Chickadees between these two bridges.

Shannon Terrace - February 8, 2015

Shannon Terrace – February 8, 2015

We headed west from the parking lot, and looped around through a few pathways, but just before reaching Bridge 1 we heard a very surprising call, especially given the sub-zero temperatures that day! Belted Kingfishers do often over-winter in Calgary, but always in small numbers, and at this spot we heard a lone male of this species! At the time, we only heard it’s distinctive rattle call a few times before it moved away, but there was no mistaking it! I did head back over to this area at the end of the walk to try to find it, and thankfully was able to get a few photos of it.

male Belted Kingfisher Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 640

male Belted Kingfisher
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 640

Also in the area was a group of five “wild” dogs that trotted across the pathway in front of us while we looked up and down stream for the kingfisher, but they paid us no mind. Initially we thought it was a group of off-leash dogs, and we waited for the owner to come down the hill… but the dogs continued on and continued west, likely heading underneath 37th St. and onto the Siksika Reserve on the other side.

There was a tree nearby with a few holes from Pileated Woodpeckers, but didn’t appear to be active, so we headed back east along Fish Creek, and spotted a Northern Goshawk on the south side of the creek. It seems that both raptors and falcons really, really hate having their picture taken when I’m around, because I think this is the third species this winter that’s made sure to put itself directly between my angle of observation, and the morning sun. Raptors can be jerks sometimes.

Northern Goshawk pair of Pileated Woodpeckers Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/200sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 160

Northern Goshawk
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/200sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 160

Heading from here over to Bridge 2, we did find our first active Pileated Woodpecker of the day, spotting this one on the side of a tree working away, while a second called from just north of where we were standing. One of our attendees was particularly hoping to see a Pileated Woodpecker, as she’d never seen one before, and so this male was a welcome sight.

Pileated Woodpecker Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 3200

Pileated Woodpecker
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 3200

We did a loop south of Bridge 2, but saw next to nothing and heard even less, but we did get a stretch of beautiful warm sunlight which we basked in for a few minutes before heading on our last loop of the day, which was in search of a recent Pacific Wren sighting on the east end of Shannon Terrace/west end of Bebo Grove. Along the way we found a small flock of three Pine Grosbeaks, who led us on a very tough chase trying to get a good look at them in a densely packed spruce stand. Thankfully, we got a good look at a male and female pair high up against a bright blue sky.

Pine Grosbeaks Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1000

Pine Grosbeaks
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1000

As I mentioned before, I did head back to Bridge 1 to look for the Belted Kingfisher, and I found a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers working over the holes we’d seen earlier! Whether these are the same pair we saw and heard further east, or a second pair of Pileated Woodpeckers in this area, it’s hard to say, but it was really nice to see them again in better light and seemingly undisturbed by my presence there as the male was hard at work excavating a nest hole.

Pileated Woodpecker Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1250

Pileated Woodpecker
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1250

pair of Pileated Woodpeckers Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@340mm 1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

pair of Pileated Woodpeckers
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@340mm
1/1000sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 1600

Have a great week, and good birding!

Sunday Showcase: Goshawk Feeding

Karen and Roger Bolton had the unusual experience of seeing a Northern Goshawk eat a Blue Jay in their yard in Glamorgan, SW Calgary, on December 7, 2013. These powerful raptors are scarce in winter in the Calgary area. They feed on game birds like pheasants and partridge; rabbits, and rodents, as well as songbirds. (Click on the photos to enlarge them.)

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DSC00158

 

A Downtown Sanctuary in Inglewood

Posted by Dan Arndt

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary is quite probably the most well known birding locale within the city limits. As a new birder, it was an old standby for me, and helped me learn more about birds, and photography, in my starting years than any other place in the city. In the summer, barely two weeks would go by between visits, but I never found much to see in the winters. This course with the Friends of Fish Creek has opened my eyes to many more places within the city limits, but this place is one of the best “stand-by” locations I know of in a pinch, and quite often has a wide variety of unusual or first sightings within the city during migration, but also throughout the year.

Last weekend, on both Saturday and Sunday. I joined the Friends of Fish Creek birding course to assist Gus Yaki. Both days I saw new birds for the year, and had some great sights of old favourites.

I’d definitely have to count among the highlights the Snow Goose I saw the first morning out. Though it wasn’t much more than a speck on the horizon, it was a new one for me. Nothing more than a recording shot of the sighting, but I loved it.

Snow Goose

Snow Goose on left, flying far and fast away from me.

The Canada Geese were numerous on the river, but there were many new arrivals that were exciting to see, such as Northern Pintails, American Wigeons, and the first Ring-billed Gulls of the season.

Canada Goose

Canada Goose

Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail (top right)

American Wigeon

American Wigeon

Ring-billed Gulls

Ring-billed Gulls

Another of the great sights to behold was the beautiful male Harlequin duck, which had successfully overwintered on the open water at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. It seemed that it was very enthusiastic with its mate choices though, as it has been seen chasing a female Mallard or two occasionally.

Harlequin

Harlequin

Harlequin chasing female Mallard

Harlequin chasing female Mallard

A few other old standbys were on hand each day at the sanctuary. The iridescent and beautiful European Starlings, the nest building Red-breasted Nuthatches, the vocal and displaying Northern Flicker, and of course the charismatic and always enjoyable Richardson’s Ground Squirrels, poking their heads out for the first time this year.

European Starling

European Starling

Red-breasted Nuthatch
Red-breasted Nuthatch

Richardson's Ground Squirrel

Richardson's Ground Squirrel

 

Sunday added again to the rogues gallery of fauna on display, from the Greater White-fronted Goose on the Bow River north of the Sanctuary, to the much better views of Northern Pintail, along with Herring Gulls, and a juvenile Northern Goshawk making quite a show of it.

Greater White-fronted Goose

Greater White-fronted Goose

Northern Pintail on Sunday

Northern Pintail on Sunday

Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk

Herring Gull

Herring Gull (middle rear) among California and Ring-billed Gulls

Another great week of birding! I’ll be back again this week to post the results of our excursion to Mallard Point yesterday, and the wonderful birds we saw there as well!

 

Good birding!

 

 

 

Revering a Raptor

From the day that I first laid eyes on the species, gliding on broad wings over a coniferous forest in the Rocky mountains of Alberta, I have always looked with awe at it, astounded by its sheer magnificence. Many people have soft spots for raptors. I have a soft spot for one in particular: the Northern Goshawk.

I first saw a goshawk just over a year ago. It was early October 2010, and I had signed up for the Mount Lorette Golden Eagle field trip with Nature Calgary. I went out on my own to explore the area right around the location of the watch, and, while out on the path, witnessed an adult goshawk rise up from the spruce trees and circle away. From that moment on I was always looking for goshawks; every chance I got, I would go searching for them.

Rising up out of the forest; my first views of a Northern Goshawk

Several days later, on a biking trip to Fish Creek Provincial Park, I came across an adult Goshawk perched high up in a poplar, sitting and gazing at the world around him. I stood and watched this magnificent raptor for more than half an hour, pointing the bird out to anybody who came near. Many of these were joggers or were merely walking their dogs. They took little interest in this bird, that is somewhat tricky to spot in the city of Calgary. I was rewarded though by the few who did pause to look up at the goshawk and comment on his size.

“What did you say it was called?”

“A Northern Goshawk”, I would reply eagerly, ” it’s somewhat unusual here in Calgary.”

“Really? Wow! Look at how big he his!” After staring up at him for several more seconds, they would smile and move on. Hopefully the Goshawk had made an impression on them though.

While I watched this large, strong accipter (agile, forest dwelling hawks with short rounded wings and long tails) it scratched its head withs its talon, giving me glimpses of those wicked sharp utensils it uses to tear apart its prey. Eventually, it lifted off and disappeared amongst the trees.

Goshawks are among the largest, strongest and most audacious of the hawks of North America. In November 2010, a little over a month since I first observed this species, I got an excellent opportunity to view this audacity. I was riding my bike home from Fish Creek and was running slightly late. I looked down for a moment as I pulled onto a dirt path going around a storm water pond, and, when I looked up again, there, sitting merely yards away from me in a small tree no taller than 10 feet, was an adult goshawk. They now seemed to be everywhere I went! I slammed on the brakes as hard as I could and screeched to a stop, panting breathlessly. Pulling out my camera, I marveled at how close this bird had let me get. I stood watching him, he stood watching me, this went on for several minutes before he abruptly flew away.

Taken with a 200mm lens and no crop; I could see every detail in the feathers

Instead of leaving altogether though, the goshawk started hovering over a field, pulled up, started hovering again and then pulled up once more. Then, with a sharp turn, he came whizzing right at me and flew by me at a distance of about 4 feet! The raptor was so close that my lens couldn’t focus on it!

These incredibly neat personal experiences combined with an amazingly beautiful species, have come to make me love the Northern Goshawk.

Posted by Matthew Sim

Elbow River Bird Survey

(Note:  The Elbow River Bird Survey is a Nature Calgary field trip.  Like all of Nature Calgary’s field trips, it is free, and anyone can participate – you don’t have to be a member.  Meet in the parking lot at Stanley Park on 42 Avenue SW,  just west of Macleod Trail, at 8:30 am.  If you would like to join us, call Gus or Aileen at 403-243-2248.)
 
When I began to bird seriously, I found that the fastest way to learn was to go on field trips offered by Nature Calgary (also known as the Calgary Field Naturalists’ Society).  The best way to see a lot of bird species and learn to identify them is to go out in the company of experienced birders.
One of my favourite field trips is the Elbow River Bird Survey.  This is a walk along the Elbow from Stanley Park to the Glenmore Dam.  It has been led on the first day of each month for over fifteen years by Gus Yaki and his wife, Aileen Pelzer.  The walk starts shortly after dawn and takes about three and a half hours.
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Wood Ducks perched beside the river, March 1, 2008.
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A Common Merganser on the River near Stanley Park, November 1, 2009.

Gus is a lifelong naturalist and is very informative about birds, plants, and other natural history.  He keeps track of all the bird and mammal species seen, and the numbers of each.  He is gathering valuable data on the changes in bird populations along the river.

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Gus Yaki (pointing) leading a walk on the Elbow River pathway, November 1, 2009.
The walk is mostly flat and easy, with one small hill between Sandy Beach and the Glenmore dam.  There are a variety of habitats on the walk.  You can see waterfowl on the river and the reservoir, songbirds in the parks and along the tree-lined urban streets and backyards, woodpeckers in the stand of old poplars in Riverdale Park, and the occasional raptor almost anywhere.  In recent years Gus has been posting the list of species seen each month on the Albertabird Listserv.  You always see something interesting.
Goshawk - Elbow River trimmed
This Northern Goshawk had just knocked a Common Goldeneye down onto the ice on the river. It flew off without pursuing the attack. February 1, 2009.
Like all of Nature Calgary’s field trips, this walk is free and open to everyone.  You do not have to be a member of Nature Calgary to participate.  If you plan to attend, since this is a one-way walk, call Gus and Aileen ahead of time, so they can arrange to carpool us back to the starting point.  The starting time changes throughout the year so check the field trip list on the Nature Calgary website or on the Calgary Rare Bird Alert (RBA) on Albertabird.
To participate, meet in the parking lot at Stanley Park on 42 Avenue SW,  just west of Macleod Trail at 8:30 am.  If you would like to join us, call Gus or Aileen at 403-243-2248.
IMG_0977
The Elbow River with the Glenmore Dam in the Backgound.
IMG_0976 adj
The Elbow River between Glenmore Dam and Sandy Beach.
IMG_0972 Adj
Downstream from Sandy Beach.

Some Recent Results of the Elbow River Bird Survey:  

  Wednesday, December 1, 2010. Sunny, calm, -02 to 02C.

  1. Canada Goose-262
  2. Mallard-60
  3. Common Goldeneye-1f
  4. Rock Pigeon-2
  5. Downy Woodpecker-2
  6. Hairy Woodpecker-1
  7. Northern Flicker-1
  8. Black-billed Magpie-31
  9. Common Raven-5
  10. Black-capped Chickadee-22
  11. Red-breasted Nuthatch-1
  12. White-breasted Nuthatch-3
  13. Townsend’s Solitaire-2
  14. American Robin-2
  15. Eur. Starling-4
  16. Bohemian Waxwing-60
  17. Dark-eyed Junco-1
  18. House Finch-1
  19. House Sparrow-12

(Eastern Gray Squirrel – 6 )

November 1, 2010, 9:20-11:50am. Partly cloudy, calm –1 to 6 C.

 

 

  1. Canada Goose-5
  2. Wood Duck-2
  3. Mallard-50
  4. Hooded Merganser-3
  5. Bald Eagle-1
  6. Rough-legged Hawk-1
  7. Ring-billed Gull-20
  8. Rock Dove-3
  9. Downy Woodpecker-4
  10. Northern Flicker-3
  11. Blue Jay-2
  12. Black-billed Magpie-52
  13. American Crow-1
  14. Common Raven-3
  15. Black-capped Chickadee-22
  16. Red-breasted Nuthatch-3
  17. White-breasted Nuthatch-1
  18. American Robin-4
  19. European Starling-13
  20. House Finch-7
  21. House Sparrow-15

 

 October 1, 2010. Mostly sunny, becoming windy, 20kph, 02-10C.
  1. Canada Goose-60
  2. Wood Duck-3
  3. Mallard-2
  4. Osprey-1
  5. Bald Eagle-1 ad/1 imm.
  6. Harlan’s Hawk, light morph-1, chased by 20 starlings, then harassed by 25 B.b. Magpies.
  7. Merlin-1
  8. Ring-billled Gull-4
  9. Rock Pigeon-4
  10. Northern Flicker-10
  11. Blue Jay-1+
  12. Black-billed Magpie-60
  13. American Crow-24
  14. Common Raven-1
  15. Black-capped Chickadee-16
  16. Red-breasted Nuthatch-6
  17. White-breasted Nuthatch-2
  18. American Robin-70
  19. European Starling-30
  20. Yellow-rumped Warbler-1
  21. House Sparrow-7
  • Eastern Gray Squirrel-9
  • Red Squirrel-1

 

September 1, 2010. Mostly cloudy, NW wind 20kph, 7-12C.  

  1. Canada Goose-2
  2. Wood Duck-4
  3. Mallard-17
  4. Common Merganser-3
  5. Red-necked Grebe-1
  6. Osprey-2
  7. Bald Eagle-1 imm.
  8. Sharp-shinned Hawk-1
  9. Cooper’s Hawk-1
  10. Merlin-1, repeatedly diving at Northern Flickers.
  11. Ring-billed Gull-1+
  12. California Gull-60
  13. Rock Pigeon-1
  14. Northern Flicker-12
  15. Western Wood-Pewee-1
  16. Red-eyed Vireo-1
  17. Blue Jay-3
  18. Black-billed Magpie-25
  19. Am. Crow-44
  20. Common Raven-4
  21. Black-capped Chickadee-1, unusually low number.
  22. Red-breasted Nuthatch-3
  23. American Robin-40
  24. Gray Catbird-1
  25. European Starling-5
  26. Cedar Waxwing-40
  27. Yellow-rumped Warbler-2 imm.
  28. Wilson’s Warbler-11
  29. Clay-colored Sparrow-1+
  30. House Finch-3
  31. Pine Siskin-20
  32. Am. Goldfinch-1 m.
 (Amazingly, first time without a House Sparrow).
Eastern Gray Squirrel-1
Mule Deer-1
  
 August 1, 2010, 0700-1045. Heavy overcast, light drizzle, 14-15C. 7 observers.

1.. Mallard-25
2.. Common Merganser-11
3.. Common Loon-2
4.. Osprey-1
5.. Merlin-1
6.. California Gull-41
7.. Rock Pigeon-25
8.. Downy Woodpecker-3
9.. Northern Flicker-18
10.. Western Wood-Pewee-3
11.. Least Flycatcher-1
12.. Black-billed Magpie-46
13.. American Crow-23
14.. Common Raven-5
15.. Tree Swallow-8
16.. Cliff Swallow-500
17.. Black-capped Chickadee-3
18.. Red-breasted Nuthatch-4
19.. House Wren-6
20.. American Robin-48
21.. Gray Catbird-5
22.. Cedar Waxwing-30
23.. Yellow Warbler-3
24.. Western Tanager-3, all 3 at different sites.
25.. Chipping Sparrow-6
26.. Clay-colored Sparrow-1
27.. Song Sparrow-1
28.. Brown-headed Cowbird-1
29.. Baltimore Oriole-1 juv. m.
30.. House Finch-15
31.. American Goldfinch-1 m.
32.. House Sparrow-60.
Also seen, amidst dense leaves at the Glenmore Dam, was a warbler head with a
gray face, eye-ring, light throat and with a yellow wash, apparently on the
upper chest. The first impression was that of a female American Redstart, but
the yellow was definitely on the chest, not on the flanks. At no time was any of
the rest of the body seen. The only other choice was a Virginia’s Warbler. Both
species of course are unlikely at this time. A birding mystery.

Eastern Gray Squirrel-1
Least Chipmunk.

July 1, 2010, 0630-11am, Stanley Park-Glenmore Dam.

1.. Canada Goose-51
2.. American Wigeon-1 m.
3.. Mallard-7 + young.
4.. Common Goldeneye-2 f.
5.. Common Merganser-3 f.
6.. Osprey-1 on nest
7.. Swainson’s Hawk-1
8.. Red-tailed Hawk-1+
9.. Rock Pigeon-5
10.. Downy Woodpecker-2
11.. Northern Flicker-9
12.. Least Flycatcher-3
13.. Red-eyed Vireo-1
14.. Black-billed Magpier-46
15.. American Crow-11
16.. Tree Swallow-10+
17.. Bank Swallow-3
18.. Cliff Swallow-20+
19.. Black-capped Chickadee-5
20.. Red-breasted Nuthatch-1
21.. House Wren-6
22.. American Robin-32
23.. Gray Catbird-4
24.. European Starling-14
25.. Cedar Waxwing-15
26.. Yellow Warbler-12
27.. Clay-colored Sparrow-4
28.. Song Sparrow-1
29.. Lincoln’s Sparrow-1
30.. White-throated Sparrow-1
31.. Brown-headed Cowbird-3
32.. House Finch-10
33.. House Sparrow-10
Eastern Gray Squirrel-12
 
June 1, 2010, 0640-1100.  Mostly cloudy, S wind 10kph, 5-12C.

a.. Canada Goose-34 + 15 yg/
b.. Mallard-15 m
c.. Common Goldeneye-2 f
d.. Common Merganser-1 f
e.. Osprey-1
f.. Red-tailed Hawk-1+
g.. Spotted Sandpiper-2
h.. Franklin’s Gull-10
i.. Rock Pigeon-14
j.. Downy Woodpecker-2
k.. Northern Flicker-10
l.. ?Western Wood-Pewee-1
m.. Black-billed Magpie-23
n.. Am. Crow-4
o.. Tree Swallow-36+
p.. Bank Swallow-1
q.. Cliff Swallow-20+
r.. Black-capped Chickadee-16
s.. Red-breasted Nuthatch-4
t.. House Wren-5+
u.. Swainson’s Thrush-1
v.. Am. Robin-36
w.. Gray Catbird-4+
x.. European Starling-20
y.. Yellow Warbler-16+
z.. Chipping Sparrow-5
aa.. Clay-colored Sparrow-8+
ab.. Song Sparrow-1 heard
ac.. Common Grackle-2
ad.. Brown-headed Cowbird-6+
ae.. House Finch-3
af.. House Sparrow-14
a.. Eastern Gray Squirrel-7
b.. Red Squirrel-1

Saturday May 1, 2010 0700-1200. Mostly sunny, calm, 0-10C.
  1. Canada Goose-15, with three clutches of 5, 5, and 3 young.
  2. Wood Duck-3 m.
  3. Mallard-20
  4. Bufflehead-10
  5. Common Merganser-6
  6. Ring-necked Pheasant-4 m
  7. Common Loon-1
  8. Horned Grebe-4
  9. Red-necked Grebe-1
  10. Cooper’s Hawk-1
  11. Red-tailed Hawk-1
  12. Merlin-2
  13. Rock Pigeon-8
  14. Franklin’s Gull-60+
  15. white-headed gulls, high in flight-10+
  16. Yellow-bellied? Sapsucker-3
  17. Downy Woodpecker-8
  18. Hairy Woodpecker-1
  19. Northern Flicker-10
  20. Blue Jay-1
  21. Black-billed Magpie-26
  22. American Crow-10+
  23. Tree Swallow-3
  24. Northern Rough-winged Swallow-6, over river, seen by Aileen.
  25. Black-capped Chickadee-35
  26. Red-breasted Nuthatch-10
  27. White-breasted Nuthatch-1 hear
  28. American Robin-60
  29. European Starling-12
  30. YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER-2
  31. Song Sparrow-1
  32. BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD-1
  33. House Finch-12+
  34. Pine Siskin-3
  35. House Sparrow-10

Eastern Gray Squirrel-6

Wednesday March 31, 2010 (for April), Partly cloudy, calm,
0-8C. Ice at Reservoir Dam still frozen.

1.. Canada Goose-16
2.. Mallard-20
3.. Common Merganser-2
4.. Ring-billed Gull-12
5.. Rock Pigeon-6
6.. Downy Woodpecker-8
7.. Northern Flicker-6
8.. Blue Jay-1
9.. Black-billed Magpie-16
10.. American Crow-4
11.. Common Raven-8
12.. Black-capped Chickadee-12
13.. Red-breasted Nuthatch-5
14.. American Robin-36
15.. European Starling-6
16.. House Finch-10
17.. Pine Siskin-1
18.. House Sparrow-6
Eastern Gray Squirrel-2

Monday March 1, 2010, 8:00-12:30. Sunny, calm, -4 to 9C.

  1. Canada Goose-140
  2. Wood Duck-1 pr.
  3. Mallard-60
  4. Common Goldeneye-1 m.
  5. Common Merganser-4
  6. Merlin-1 carrying prey.
  7. Rock Pigeon-5
  8. Great Horned Owl-2
  9. Downy Woodpecker-8
  10. Hairy Woodpecker-5
  11. Northern Flicker-6+
  12. Blue Jay-1+ heard.
  13. Black-billed Magpier-30
  14. Common Raven-3
  15. Black-capped Chickadee-22
  16. Red-breasted Nuthatch-5
  17. White-breasted Nuthatch-3
  18. Brown Creeper-2
  19. European Starling-5
  20. House Finch-6+
  21. Pine Siskin-2+
  22. House Sparrow-16

Eastern Gray Squirrel-6

Monday, February 1, 2010, 0815-1145. Sunny, Calm, -6 to -2C.
 
1.. Canada Goose-190
2.. Mallard-160
3.. Common Goldeneye-2
4.. Common Merganser-2
5.. Bald Eagle-1 ad.
6.. Rock Pigeon-4
7.. Downy Woodpecker-4
8.. Hairy Woodpecker-1
9.. Northern Flicker-2
10.. Black-billed Magpie-45
11.. Common Raven-9
12.. Black-capped Chickadee-62, counted by Tony T.
13.. Red-breasted Nuthatch-1
14.. White-breasted Nuthatch-1
15.. European Starling-8
16.. Bohemian Waxwing-350
17.. House Finch-6
18.. House Sparrow-24
Eastern Gray Squirrel-4
  

Saturday January 3, 2010: 8:30-12noon, Sunny, calm, -12C. 7 participants

1.. Canada Goose-450
2.. Mallard 500
3.. Common Goldeneye-8
4.. Common Merganser-2
5.. Downy Woodpecker-7
6.. Hairy Woodpecker-2
7.. Black-billed Magpie-60
8.. Common Raven-14
9.. Black-capped Chickadee-32
10.. Red-breasted Nuthatch-7
11.. White-breasted Nuthatch-1
12.. Bohemian Waxwing-200
13.. House Finch-1
14.. Common Redpoll?-5
15.. House Sparrow-35
a.. Eastern Gray Squirrel-7
b.. White-tailed Jackrabbit-tracks.
c.. Coyote tracks

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

.

  1. Canada Goose-262
  2. Mallard-60
  3. Common Goldeneye-1f
  4. Rock Pigeon-2
  5. Downy Woodpecker-2
  6. Hairy Woodpecker-1
  7. Northern Flicker-1
  8. Black-billed Magpie-31
  9. Common Raven-5
  10. Black-capped Chickadee-22
  11. Red-breasted Nuthatch-1
  12. White-breasted Nuthatch-3
  13. Townsend’s Solitaire-2
  14. American Robin-2
  15. Eur. Starling-4
  16. Bohemian Waxwing-60
  17. Dark-eyed Junco-1
  18. House Finch-1
  19. House Sparrow-12

Eastern Gray Squirrel – 5

The Elbow River Bird Survey

 
When I began to bird seriously, I found that the fastest way to learn was to go on field trips offered by Nature Calgary (also known as the Calgary Field Naturalists’ Society).  The best way to see a lot of bird species and learn to identify them is to go out in the company of experienced birders.
 
One of my favourite field trips is the Elbow River Bird Survey.  This is a walk along the Elbow from Stanley Park to the Glenmore Dam.  It has been led on the first day of each month for over fifteen years by Gus Yaki and his wife, Aileen Pelzer.  The walk starts shortly after dawn and takes about three and a half hours.
IMG_1826 adj

Wood Ducks perched beside the river, March 1, 2008.

IMG_0962

A Common Merganser on the River near Stanley Park, November 1, 2009.

Gus is a lifelong naturalist and is very informative about birds, plants, and other natural history.  He keeps track of all the bird and mammal species seen, and the numbers of each.  He is gathering valuable data on the changes in bird populations along the river.

IMG_0970 trimmed

Gus Yaki (pointing) leading a walk on the Elbow River pathway, November 1, 2009.

The walk is mostly flat and easy, with one small hill between Sandy Beach and the Glenmore dam.  There are a variety of habitats on the walk.  You can see waterfowl on the river and the reservoir, songbirds in the parks and along the tree-lined urban streets and backyards, woodpeckers in the stand of old poplars in Riverdale Park, and the occasional raptor almost anywhere.  In recent years Gus has been posting the list of species seen each month on the Albertabird Listserv.  You always see something interesting.
Goshawk - Elbow River trimmed

This Northern Goshawk had just knocked a Common Goldeneye down onto the ice on the river. It flew off without pursuing the attack. February 1, 2009.

Like all of Nature Calgary’s field trips, this walk is free and open to everyone.  You do not have to be a member of Nature Calgary to participate.  If you plan to attend, since this is a one-way walk, call Gus and Aileen ahead of time, so they can arrange to carpool us back to the starting point.  The starting time changes throughout the year so check the field trip list on the Nature Calgary website or on the Calgary Rare Bird Alert (RBA) on Albertabird.
 
The next survey is Saturday, May 1, 2010.  Meet in the parking lot at Stanley Park on 42 Avenue SW,  just west of Macleod Trail at 7:00 am.  If you would like to join us, call Gus or Aileen at 403-243-2248.
IMG_0977

The Elbow River with the Glenmore Dam in the Backgound.

IMG_0976 adj

The Elbow River between Glenmore Dam and Sandy Beach.

IMG_0972 Adj

Downstream from Sandy Beach.

Some Recent Results of the Elbow River Bird Survey:   

Wednesday March 31, 2010 (for April), Partly cloudy, calm,
0-8C. Ice at Reservoir Dam still frozen.

1.. Canada Goose-16
2.. Mallard-20
3.. Common Merganser-2
4.. Ring-billed Gull-12
5.. Rock Pigeon-6
6.. Downy Woodpecker-8
7.. Northern Flicker-6
8.. Blue Jay-1
9.. Black-billed Magpie-16
10.. American Crow-4
11.. Common Raven-8
12.. Black-capped Chickadee-12
13.. Red-breasted Nuthatch-5
14.. American Robin-36
15.. European Starling-6
16.. House Finch-10
17.. Pine Siskin-1
18.. House Sparrow-6
Eastern Gray Squirrel-2

Monday March 1, 2010, 8:00-12:30. Sunny, calm, -4 to 9C.

  1. Canada Goose-140
  2. Wood Duck-1 pr.
  3. Mallard-60
  4. Common Goldeneye-1 m.
  5. Common Merganser-4
  6. Merlin-1 carrying prey.
  7. Rock Pigeon-5
  8. Great Horned Owl-2
  9. Downy Woodpecker-8
  10. Hairy Woodpecker-5
  11. Northern Flicker-6+
  12. Blue Jay-1+ heard.
  13. Black-billed Magpier-30
  14. Common Raven-3
  15. Black-capped Chickadee-22
  16. Red-breasted Nuthatch-5
  17. White-breasted Nuthatch-3
  18. Brown Creeper-2
  19. European Starling-5
  20. House Finch-6+
  21. Pine Siskin-2+
  22. House Sparrow-16

Eastern Gray Squirrel-6

 

Monday, February 1, 2010, 0815-1145. Sunny, Calm, -6 to -2C. 
 
1.. Canada Goose-190
2.. Mallard-160
3.. Common Goldeneye-2
4.. Common Merganser-2
5.. Bald Eagle-1 ad.
6.. Rock Pigeon-4
7.. Downy Woodpecker-4
8.. Hairy Woodpecker-1
9.. Northern Flicker-2
10.. Black-billed Magpie-45
11.. Common Raven-9
12.. Black-capped Chickadee-62, counted by Tony T.
13.. Red-breasted Nuthatch-1
14.. White-breasted Nuthatch-1
15.. European Starling-8
16.. Bohemian Waxwing-350
17.. House Finch-6
18.. House Sparrow-24
Eastern Gray Squirrel-4
  

Saturday January 3, 2010: 8:30-12noon, Sunny, calm, -12C. 7 participants

1.. Canada Goose-450
2.. Mallard 500
3.. Common Goldeneye-8
4.. Common Merganser-2
5.. Downy Woodpecker-7
6.. Hairy Woodpecker-2
7.. Black-billed Magpie-60
8.. Common Raven-14
9.. Black-capped Chickadee-32
10.. Red-breasted Nuthatch-7
11.. White-breasted Nuthatch-1
12.. Bohemian Waxwing-200
13.. House Finch-1
14.. Common Redpoll?-5
15.. House Sparrow-35
a.. Eastern Gray Squirrel-7
b.. White-tailed Jackrabbit-tracks.
c.. Coyote tracks

Posted by Bob Lefebvre