Monday, 23 May 2011

Kinbrook Island Provincial Park

We've just returned from a great long weekend camping trip to Kinbrook Island Provincial Park near Brooks, which is about 200km south-east of Calgary.  The park is on the east shore of a large reservoir,  Newell Lake, and the campground is basically an island covered in poplar trees and surrounded by marsh.  The existence of these three habitats together in the middle of vast prairie grassland is, as you can see below, a real bird magnet.

In the campground there were several species of flycatcher ranging from the easily identified and bold to the tricky and hyperactive.  (As usual all photos in the post are click to enlarge!)
Western Kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis

Eastern Kingbird, Tyrannus tyrannus

Least Flycatcher, Empidonax minimus - OK, I heard several Least Flycatchers, this bird was close by, and it looks like a Least Flycatcher but those empids are tricky!
A birding highlight of the weekend came while I was washing breakfast dishes.  There was a flurry of activity in the understory.  A group of 4 male Brown-headed Cowbirds chasing one female were displaying to each other on branches and, ultimately, on the grass about ten yards in front of me.
Brown-headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater

Brown-headed CowbirdMolothrus ater
There are nice walks (if you aren't freaked out by bugs like our 3 year old!) around the marshes, including an interpretive trail around the northeast area that was a little long for our crew of preschoolers.  The dominant species in this area is Red-winged Blackbirds, but spaced out among these territorial birds were Yellow-headed Blackbirds and a large number of Marsh Wrens.
Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

Yellow-headed Blackbird, Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
During one of these walks we bumped into a group of birders doing the 13th Annual Brooks Species Count.  They commented on the lack of shorebirds, an observation supported throughout the weekend and the drive back to Calgary (one yellowlegs, one snipe, and three large shorebirds on a far off muddy field was all I saw).  I was generally surprised by the lack of birds on the main bodies of water in the park but along with the usually half dozen species of duck we did see Red-necked Grebes, Forster's Tern, and some American White Pelican.
American White Pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos, displaying breeding season "horn"
This relative lack of species on the open water was entirely compensated for by the continual displays of flycatchers, Tree Swallows, Yellow Warblers, blackbirds, sparrows, and ever-friendly American Robins around the campsite.  I would highly recommend this campsite as a destination for the birding-inclined camper or any family looking for a prairie getaway.

In total, 48 species were seen on the weekend getaway and a birder working the area in a more focused way would have no trouble finding many more.  For those interested here's the list of species seen either at Kinbrook or in the immediate Brooks area:

Canada Goose Branta canadensis
American Wigeon Anas americana
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Blue-winged Teal Anas discors
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
Northern Pintail Anas acuta
Redhead Aythya americana
Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis
Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis
Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena
American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus
Swainson's Hawk Buteo swainsoni (on nest)
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
American Coot Fulica americana
Yellowlegs sp. Tringa sp.
Wilson's Snipe Gallinago delicata
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
Forster's Tern Sterna forsteri
Rock Pigeon Columba livia
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus (adult with two fledglings)
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus
Least Flycatcher Empidonax minimus
Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis
Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus
Black-billed Magpie Pica hudsonia
American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos
Common Raven Corvus corax
Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor (on nest - tree cavity)
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris
American Robin Turdus migratorius (on nest)
Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia
Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas
Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina
Clay-colored Sparrow Spizella pallida
Vesper Sparrow Pooecetes gramineus
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta
Yellow-headed Blackbird Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
Brewer's Blackbird Euphagus cyanocephalus
Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater
Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula
House Sparrow Passer domesticus

No comments:

Post a Comment