Posted by Bob Lefebvre
Since January 2012 Dan Arndt and I have led the Sunday morning group in the Friends of Fish Creek birding course, at 9 am in the Fall and Winter session, and at 7:30 am in the Spring. As the course has gained popularity, more and more groups have been added. There are now over 200 people registered for the Spring session, so there are eighteen different groups that go on the field trips each week. As more groups have been added there is a need for more leaders, so although Dan will continue to lead at 7:30 on Sundays, I have moved to the 9 am group.
Dan will continue to report here about what they see on his outings, with a one-week delay (see last week’s post Spring Begins at Sikome Lake). But on April 13 he was away, so I have arranged to use the photos taken that day by George Best on our group’s outing, and keep you up to date on what’s happening with the birds of Calgary.
We met at the Weaselhead parking lot and carpooled to the westernmost lot in the adjacent North Glenmore Park, to scope out the reservoir for migrants. For such a late date, there was still a lot of ice on the reservoir, with the only open water being on the Elbow River and the extreme west end of the lake where the river enters it. There were quite a few species of waterfowl present, and this pair of Canada Geese stood out right away due to the contrast in their colours.
Canada Geese. All photos by George Best
Among the numerous Mallards and Common Goldeneyes we spotted a pair of Redheads.
Redheads and Mallards.
As we scanned the water from the high ridge in North Glenmore Park, we were treated to the sight of four Trumpeter Swans which suddenly appeared and flew silently in a line right in front of us at close range. They were so close and it happened so fast that George could not get a photo with his big lens. Instead, here is a shot of Mallards in flight. A more common sight in these parts but still a beautiful bird.
We had a few other notable birds on the reservoir, including Canvasbacks, Hooded Mergansers, Ruddy Ducks, and the first two Greater Yellowlegs of the season.
Next we headed to the east end of the reservoir near the Canoe Club to check out the stormwater ponds there. Several House Finches gave us good looks right by the parking lot.
House Finch, male.
On the way to the ponds we spotted this White-tailed Jackrabbit, and George got a great shot as he stood to size us up. Down in the Weaselhead we sometimes see Snowshoe Hares but up in South Glenmore Park it is more common to see these.
There wasn’t much on the ponds but the birds are closer so they make good subjects.
Common Goldeneye, male.
Finally, we headed down into the Weaselhead proper. At the beginning of the walk we added two more mammals, Richardson’s Ground Squirrel and Least Chipmunk. For most of the participants it was the first ground squirrel of the year. For George, who is from the U.K., it was a life mammal, so he made sure to get some close-ups
Richardson’s Ground Squirrel.
Richardson’s Ground Squirrel close-up.
The only birds on the Elbow River were these two sleeping Common Mergansers.
We saw one Dark-eyed Junco and a few American Tree Sparrows, but these were too flighty to stay for photos. One problem we have with our Sunday walks is that the parks are very busy with bikers, runners, dog-walkers, etc. We stood still to try to get good looks at the Tree Sparrows and Juncos as they fed, but all the traffic on the path kept flushing them. It is a lot quieter on some of the weekday morning walks.
We had heard Blue Jays calling many times and finally caught up with one by the feeders.
Also at a tin-can feeder was this male Hairy Woodpecker.
Hairy Woodpecker, male.
We didn’t have time to go too far into the Weaselhead, but we’ll be back when the Hummingbirds are here to see it again.
Dan will report on the Easter Sunday outing on Monday. Until then, Good Birding!