Thursday, 14 July 2011

Juveniles at Frank Lake

I returned from Vancouver Island to find my backordered digiscoping bracket waiting for me.  The bracket attaches a point-and-shoot camera to the eyepiece of my scope and has a cable release for vibration free pictures.  I headed to Frank Lake, just east of High River to try it out.
Savannah Sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis 
As would be expected there were many Savannah Sparrows in the grassland around the lake, as well as two Common Ravens being mobbed by a mixed flock of blackbirds (both Red-winged and Yellow-headed were present in large numbers around the lake).

By the time I reached the hide I realized that digiscoping was going to be somewhat unnecessary - close encounters were to be the order of the day.  Franklin's Gulls were standing on the pathway to the hide, and several Yellow-headed Blackbirds fed juveniles in the reeds beside the boardwalk.  A pair of Forster's Terns were also nesting nearby as one repeatedly flew at my head.  A family of Coots had their nest six feet from the path and swam about happily a little further away while I set up the scope.
American Coot (and 2 very funky looking chicks!), Fulica americana
I spent a little over an hour in the hide while several adult and juvenile Eared Grebes swam about in the reeds.  Further out on the lake, Western Grebes could be seen, including some young.  The distinctive silhouettes of White-face Ibis flew past three times, and a pair of Barn Swallows repeatedly flew up to the window to see who was intruding on their territory.  A pair of Lesser Scaup also landed in front of the hide and the male chased the female around in circles, repeatedly biting her neck until he finally mounted her, pushing her almost completely under the water.  It was easy to see how competitive breeding can, in some cases, kill female dabbling ducks.
juvenile Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis
All in all a pleasant afternoon with 19 species seen at the lake.  I'm looking forward to playing around with the digiscoping some more over the summer.

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