Monday, 22 April 2013

Waterways of Calgary

Today's post was to have been a detailed exploration of the new Ralph Klein Park, on the south-east edge of Calgary.  My plan to spend a morning exploring this manufactured wetland was pleasantly thwarted by a call to help out with the early morning birding course at Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.  After a chilly, windy walk along the Bow River at Inglewood, I stopped by Elliston Park, Calgary's second largest body of water. Finally, with a little time to spare before meeting up with the family for a trip to the model train show, I stopped briefly at the new wetland.

The following little photo essay takes you through my morning jaunt through river, lake, and wetland.  Click on any image to view as a slideshow....
Spot the pipits!  Flocks of American Pipits, Anthus rubescens, migrate through Calgary every spring.  They are often found on gravel bars along the river and are extraordinarily well camouflaged, as these two birds show. 
In contrast to 2012, it is still cold and snowy in Calgary and many winter residents are abundant.  This Bohemian Waxwing, Bombycilla garrulus, was part of a flock that briefly flew down to the river for a drink.  This one flashed the rusty orange under its tail that helps tell it apart from its Cedar Waxwing summer cousins.
The next stop was Elliston Park where Lesser Scaup, Aythya affinis, were the most abundant species.  Here one female at centre and five males.
The males have only one thing on their minds at this time of year...
...and she is fed up with all the attention...
...but unfortunately there's no escape, even in the air - that's six males trying to box her in!
There were songbirds present at Elliston as well, including this stunning Red Crossbill, Loxia curvirostra.
The last stop I made was Ralph Klein Park, where I snapped this heavily-cropped, long-range shot of a Red-breasted Merganser, Mergus serrator, (bottom left) a regular but rare migrant through the Calgary area.  By the way, that's a pink-legged Herring Gull showing off above the two Common Goldeneyes, likely trying to mind their own business.
The Red-breasted Merganser didn't stick around for long as this Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, flew in, flushing dozens of waterfowl and hundreds of gulls into a tower of circling noise.
Two more new birds for the year, feeding in another part of the park, were Black-necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus, and Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca.  A lovely way to end the morning's birding.

Update: Our intrepid leader for the morning, Dan Arndt of Birds Calgary, posted his images from the Inglewood outing here.  He's been playing around with a loaner Swarovski scope and digiscoping setup

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