Saturday, 7 April 2012

An Early Migrant at the Friends of Fish Creek Spring Birding Course

This Saturday morning, and for most of the next 11 Saturdays, I'm assisting with guiding a spring birdwatching course run by the Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park.  These courses are very popular with well over 100 participants going out basically every day of the week to various locations in Calgary.  If you're interested, there are a few spots available for some days and the course information can be found here (update April 14th: link no longer works - just goes to FFCPP website as registration is closed).  We had a nice morning birding North Glenmore Park and the Weaselhead.  Highlights included great views of a very early arriving Eastern Phoebe,   a small flock of White-winged Crossbills feeding low down in the trees, and a Northern Shrike - a life bird for me.  It was also nice to see small groups of Trumpeter Swans on the Glenmore Reservoir, along with that other harbinger of spring waterfowl, a Northern Pintail.  A few photos follow below, along with a complete species list.
A pair of Blue Jays flew through the parking lot while I was waiting for the rest of the group to arrive - nice birds for Calgary
Maybe they call it a Least Chipmunk because it fits in a tuna can bird feeder.
In a few days there will be no Pine Grosbeaks left in Calgary, as they head north, but this youngster was still hanging out doing it's best at a spring song. 
A Red-breasted Nuthatch, also looking for treats at the feeders
This Eastern Phoebe has returned unusually early to a customary nesting site under the wooden arch bridge on the Weaselhead trails.  We didn't see any insects but this bird was certainly finding them on the surface of the snow-covered creek.  While the bird sat on a bankside perch performing the tell-"tail" phoebe tail flick, I was able to snap this shot which captures another good field mark - the dark smudges on either side of the breast.
We had great views of a small group of White-winged Crossbills feeding unusually low in the trees.  As crossbill photos go, this one turned out ok.
Checking my list when I got home, I was surprised to find that this White-breasted Nuthatch was my first of the year - must be a book-keeping error! 
A nice morning of birding with a friendly and keen group of people - I'm looking forward to the next one!  Here's the list of species seen/heard:

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Trumpeter Swan
  3. American Wigeon
  4. Mallard
  5. Northern Pintail
  6. Bufflehead
  7. Common Goldeneye
  8. Ring-billed Gull
  9. California Gull
  10. Northern Flicker
  11. Red-tailed Hawk (2, one of which was Harlan's)
  12. Northern Flicker (heard only)
  13. Eastern Phoebe
  14. Northern Shrike
  15. Blue Jay
  16. Black-billed Magpie
  17. American Crow
  18. Common Raven
  19. Black-capped Chickadee
  20. Boreal Chickadee
  21. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  22. White-breasted Nuthatch
  23. American Robin
  24. Bohemian Waxwing
  25. American Tree Sparrow
  26. Song Sparrow (heard only)
  27. Pine Grosbeak
  28. White-winged Crossbill
  29. Common Redpoll
  30. Pine Siskin
  31. House Sparrow


  1. It sounds like you had a great walk. The White-breasted Nuthatch photo is very beautiful.

  2. Thanks very much! Glad to see you have joined the AlbertaBird community - it's certainly been a great resource for me.