Posted by Dan Arndt
Finally we had a warmer day, and while there was a little wind and the light wasn’t perfect, there were certainly a few moments where everything made it all worth while, even the last few weeks of dreary, snowy misery.
We started, and finished, with the show-stealers of the day, and it made it difficult to really have anything match the incredible sight.
Great Horned Owls
Protective male Great Horned Owl
While Dad was protecting the young, the mother and babies were well guarded and seemed to be completely unfazed by the presence of 14 people checking out the area.
In the first pond at Carburn Park, we saw quite a bit of evidence of beaver activity, and we did manage to spot a pair of them swimming about, with this one getting close enough for me to photograph.
While we headed south in the earliest start of the season so far, we got lucky with a few birds we hadn’t seen before, like the Song Sparrow and Savannah Sparrow, but neither were in any position for me to get photos. Swarmed by low flybys of literally hundreds of Tree Swallows at a time, our eyes were on the sky much of the time, allowing me to spot this distant Rough-legged Hawk circling above the parking lot, most likely rising on thermals to continue his northward migration.
As we neared the parking lot again, and scanned along the river to see what we could see, we were gifted with this beautiful flyby of a male American White Pelican. Awesome.
male American White Pelican
We headed up along the bank of the river, and while we saw a good number of Franklin’s, Ring-billed, and California Gulls, and even bigger numbers of Tree Swallows, but due to the number of boats on the river, the photo opportunities were slim. That all changed once we turned back onto main pathway and reached the second pond. We got really good looks at Red-necked Grebes and a single Common Loon, and I knew that if they stuck around, I’d be back later on with the Swarovski ATX 85 to take some much closer shots.
Our next good views were on the river, one of which was, I think, one of the most surprising of the day. A lone Yellow-headed Blackbird was flocking with a group of European Starlings. For a bird that is almost always seen in cat-tail wetlands, seeing it foraging on the bank of the river was really odd!
Yellow-headed Blackbird and European Starlings
Another of the awe-inspiring sights was the Tree Swallows banking, diving, and feeding over the Bow River, and I think we had just as much fun watching them.
Tree Swallows on nest box
Tree Swallow in flight
Tree Swallows going for a drink
We headed back, prepared to call it a day, and had our best views of a pair of Osprey in the distance.
After the rest of the group left, I returned to the bank of the second pond to see what I could see through the scope, and get some better photos of the Red-necked Grebes, Common Loon, and I ended up getting some nice ones of the Great Horned Owls as well!
Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl
Aren’t they just adorable?
Thanks for reading!
Next week, we’re off to South Glenmore Park, to see what we can see on the Glenmore Reservoir, and maybe luck out with some early arriving warblers and a few more sparrows.