Thursday, 25 August 2011

A Prairie Drive and A Milestone

Yesterday I headed out on a hot prairie drive to Frank Lake and Weed Lake, two of the best spots for waterfowl and shorebirds in the Calgary region.  I had an enjoyable day out and, when I tabulated my list at home, I made a pleasant discovery - scroll down for more.

A map of my route (I went anti-clockwise).  Click to enlarge.

Highlights included a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron that I flushed from the reeds and a Northern Harrier hunting shorebirds along the edge of Frank Lake.  I had my digiscoping kit with me and caught some images of the shorebirds and others.
Long-billed Curlews are stunningly elegant birds
Marbled Godwits aren't bad either
As I've mentioned before, sometimes the scope is kind of overkill!  Nevertheless, this Barn Swallow  apparently doesn't mind posing.
A Black-necked Stilt pauses to reflect (while Franklin's Gulls take a nap)
These are Red-necked Phalaropes - at least I hope it's not a botched identification because that's my 200th ABA (i.e. North American) species!
Calidris sandpipers are confusing - what species do you think this one is, and why?

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Calgary Birder now Smartphone Friendly!

For the 2% of my readers last month that were on mobile devices, there is now an smartphone friendly version of this website.  Visit the site on your mobile and check it out!

Have a nice day and good birding!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Looking for Warblers at the Bird Sanctuary

I joined a Nature Calgary outing to look for fall migrants at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.  After a slow start we eventually found 5 species of warbler: Yellow-rumped, Yellow, Blackpoll, Wilson's and Northern Waterthrush (which is of course, not a thrush).  There were a host of other great birds to be had, as can be seen below (click any image to enlarge)
Immature Great Blue Heron sitting on the rail within a few yards of us! 
Another immature, this one a Baltimore Oriole
Northern Rough-winged Swallow - dozens of them sitting on bushes by the water 
By far the best views I've had of Warbling Vireo - half-decent photos too!
Same vireo again, foraging in the branches
Western Wood Pewee - nice to have an expert guide to help sort out the Flycatchers
The only warbler I managed to photograph.  What species is this....?

...Yellow-rumped!  This is a hatch year bird.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Weaselhead by Water

Tuesday was a lovely day for a paddle on the Glenmore Reservoir.  The water levels are still very high and I was also able to paddle a long way up the Elbow River.  The marshy area where the river enters the reservoir was extensively flooded and there was some very cool paddling in among the bushes.
West end of Glenmore Reservoir, photo taken with smartphone
The birding was relatively sparse, at least in part because of the time of day (11:30 to 2:30).  Despite this there were some neat sightings along the way.
Spotted Sandpipers aren't very spotted at this time of year but there were many of them along the south shore of the reservoir, including these two squabbling for space on a log.  There were also many Cedar Waxwings and some tantalizing glimpses of warblers such as Wilson's and Yellow Warblers.  Closer to the west end of the reservoir I enjoyed watching this Least Flycatcher hunting among some shrubs.
Just around the corner I surprised a juvenile Cooper's Hawk.  This was to be the first of two accipiters for the day as a Sharp-shinned Hawk flew across in front of me as I was paddling up a narrow channel in the Weaselhead.
Heading back across the reservoir there were a few ducks, gulls, and grebes scattered across the water but I most enjoyed watching three Double-crested Cormorants swimming and sunning themselves along the mouth of the river.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Birding in Ontario

We're off on holiday again and have spent a few days with friends in Eastern Ontario cottage country.  It's interesting to notice how birds that may be unusual in one area of the country have entirely different distributions elsewhere - one person's rarity is another person's "trash" bird (although I'm really not a big fan of that term).  Turkey Vultures are an obvious Alberta vs. Ontario example.  Another example is the Common Loon, which you get to see up close all the time here.  Our hosts were reminding me of this as they had been very excited about Bald Eagles on the west coast when we were kayaking with them a few years ago.  We had a laugh when they slowly realized that there is seemingly one on every island and here in Ontario the tables are turned!
Common Loon, Gavia immer
The islands on Big Rideau Lake are filled with songbirds, which merit their own post at a later date.  However, there was plenty to see out on the water as well, including this lifer Caspian Tern which wheeled and dove over the lake affording great view of its hunting prowess.
Caspian Tern, Hydroprogne caspia