Posted by Dan Arndt
Once again the Friends of Fish Creek Birding course made its way to Carburn Park, without the lure of the Northern Saw-whet Owl back in January. Since then, the weather has warmed, the birds have begun preparations to nest, and while most have chosen their mates, others are still in the process of defining their territory and competing with their rivals for the few mates still unspoken for. We were gifted with a few wonderful displays of an incredible number of Northern Flickers all throughout the park, as well as the beautifully crimson male House Finch, and huge numbers of Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Mallards, and Canada Geese.
This time around, we headed south from the parking lot to the bridge over the Bow River, which is one of the best places in the city to get good views, and good photos, of birds in flight. Both Canada Geese and the juvenile Bald Eagles came low over the bridge, almost posing as they flew by.
From there, we headed further south along the river to get views of the duck species present, and were allowed particularly good views of Buffleheads, Mallards, Common Goldeneye, and even my first female Common Merganser of the year.
We headed east about a hundred meters before heading north along the back fences of the community adjacent to the park. Here we were greeted by the melodious sounds of House Finches and Black-capped Chickadees at the feeders.
Cutting back over to the river bank, the overcast skies opened up to let the blue shine through, and the light was absolutely incredible for the better part of an hour. Along this stretch of river, we were constantly hearing the drumming and calling of the Northern Flickers, and across the river, a family of Bald Eagles was down on the ice. Overhead, the Canada Geese continued their flyovers before heading eastward to the outlying fields for the day.
From there, we headed along the shoreline in a clockwise direction. While the light remained good, we came across a curious Black-billed Magpie, and a group of Common Mergansers also swam in close, the males showing off their beautiful green head plumage.
While the number of ducks and geese was incredibly high, the evidence of their predation by the ever present Bald Eagles was apparent.
We continued to trek onwards, and in our search for the Northern Saw-whet Owl seen here in January that came up empty, we almost literally stumbled upon a herd of twenty or so White-tailed Deer, spread out along the trails in the northwest section of the park.
While the remainder of the walk was a little rushed, it remained relatively relaxing, as the birds had quieted down quite a lot, and none really seemed to pay us any mind as we strolled the interior of the park along the pond, back to our vehicles, and then home.
See you next week!