Monday, 30 April 2012

South Glenmore Park with Friends of Fish Creek

The past weekend began with the fourth Saturday of the Friends of Fish Creek Park Spring Birding Course.  I was a little tired out after a week in the Gulf Islands with thirty-two of my Junior High students but made this an "NMT" outing by biking to the reservoir, which is why all images in this post are through a scope.  It was certainly worth the effort as the weather was lovely with the sun periodically peaking out from between the clouds.  We were entertained by a pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches emptying wood chips from their nest hole and, despite the songbirds being a little thin on the ground, we also watched a Ruby-crowned Kinglet singing boldly from the top of a tall spruce.
Unfortunately I didn't capture the nest cavity cleaning process in the above video but it's nice to see breeding behaviour in action anyway

South Glenmore Park is a mix of many habitat types: a stand of old growth spruce trees borders on aspen parkland which in turn borders on fragments of boreal forest in the Weaselhead Natural Area.  Alongside these woodlands there are grassy fields, a river delta, and of course the reservoir itself.  It was there where we found much of the bird activity with twenty-eight species on or beside the water, twelve of which were Alberta "first of year" for me, plus a life bird - the Say's Phoebe.
My life Say's Phoebe, Sayornis saya, seems much less interested in me than I am in him
The reservoir itself was covered in birds which gave great scope (and closer) views.  The variety of waterfowl made for a productive learning experience for the participants as we were able to pick out and compare species.  A Canvasback paddled around beside some Redheads, two pairs of Ring-necked Ducks hung out with a small flock of Lesser Scaup, and so on.  Our group was perhaps most impressed by the Western Grebes, which were actively feeding and calling just a hundred metres or less from our viewpoint.
The Western Grebe, Aechmophorus occidentals, appears both stately and savage. 
As is often the case, I learned a valuable bird identification lesson myself, in the form of a flock of thirty gulls with black heads that flew across the reservoir and landed on the far side.  "More Franklin's!", I called out, assuming that they would match the hundred or so that were already there.  "Bonaparte's Gulls", corrected our group's leader.  Not exactly a rookie mistake - they are pretty close - but I should have known better and not made the immediate logical assumption, particularly as just four days earlier I had sailed through a flock of 5000+ Bonaparte's out on the West Coast.  Birding is certainly a hobby where jumping to conclusions is all too easy!
Bonaparte's Gull, Chroicocephalus philadelphia, not on Glenmore Reservoir,  but earlier in the week in the rain of the Gulf Islands.
In spite of this minor setback, I thoroughly enjoyed the morning's birding and am looking forward to next week's outing.  More on the West Coast to follow in May...

Here's a list of species seen on this outing (plus two en route marked with *):

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Trumpeter Swan
  3. Gadwall
  4. American Wigeon
  5. Mallard
  6. Blue-winged Teal
  7. Northern Shoveler
  8. Northern Pintail
  9. Canvasback
  10. Redhead
  11. Ring-necked Duck
  12. Lesser Scaup
  13. Bufflehead
  14. Common Goldeneye
  15. Common Merganser
  16. Common Loon
  17. Horned Grebe
  18. Eared Grebe
  19. Western Grebe
  20. Red-necked Grebe*
  21. American Coot
  22. Spotted Sandpiper
  23. Greater Yellowlegs
  24. Bonaparte's Gull
  25. Franklin's Gull
  26. Gull sp. (probably California)
  27. Downy Woodpecker
  28. Northern Flicker
  29. Say's Phoebe
  30. Black-billed Magpie
  31. American Crow
  32. Common Raven
  33. Black-capped Chickadee (heard only)
  34. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  35. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  36. Savannah Sparrow*
  37. Pine Siskin
  38. House Sparrow

No comments:

Post a Comment