Monday, 5 September 2011


Last week was the first week of school - 3 days of meetings and planning followed by 2 days of new kids, new classes, and new routines makes for an exciting and busy week.  That should explain the lack of posts, as well as the monumentally poor timing (from my perspective!) of 36 straight hours of rain resulting in a substantial fallout in the Calgary area.

What is a fallout?  In birding terms, fallout refers to a weather system that grounds migratory birds and/or forces seabirds to land.  A recent example is the frenetic birding on the east coast as a result of Hurricane Irene which merited its own blog.  You can also read a nice summary of the hurricane birding to be found here.  White-tailed Tropicbirds and South Polar Skuas are fantastic birds for New England (or anywhere?) but there were also some remarkable science stories that emerged from this storm.  I was particularly struck by this tale of a radio-tagged Whimbrel, which flew more or less straight through the hurricane and emerged unscathed.

While our recent wet weather was considerably less dramatic than a Category 3 hurricane, the resulting clouds of warblers and vireos delighted local birders.  A particularly nice spot to catch migrating songbirds is an area of shrubby wetland in Confederation Park (click on the link at the top of this post for a map).  One observer reported eleven species of warbler on his morning commute around this location while another added Chestnut-sided Warbler to the list on the same day.  This area has the added bonus of being my "local patch" - a short walk from work and home.

Can you find 11 species of warbler in this photo?  (Photo taken with smartphone)
Joking aside, I didn't even have time to grab my camera but just headed straight over to the park after school to see what I could find.  Fall warblers are really not an area of strength in my birding skill set but there was much to see.  The bushes were jumping with tiny birds, busily refuelling for the next leg of their migration.  I was able to positively identify Wilson's Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Waterthrush, Blackpoll Warbler, and Yellow-rumped Warbler, several of which are new NMT (non-motorized transport) birds for me.  Other highlights included a pair of handsomely streaked Lincoln's Sparrows and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  This last bird was an Alberta first for me and a special species, as it was partially responsible for getting me into birding in the first place (read under "About Me" for more details).

Not bad for a half-hour of neighbourhood birding and whenever there is poor weather bringing the potential of fallout, I will remember to get out and investigate.

No comments:

Post a Comment