Posted by Dan Arndt
The epitome of “backyard birding”, can be experienced with the monthly Elbow River Bird Survey that Gus Yaki has been doing on the first of the month for nearly twenty years. Starting at Stanley Park, the walk meanders along the Elbow River through the neighborhoods of Parkhill/Stanley Park, Elbow Park, and Altadore before reaching its terminus at the Glenmore Reservoir at the Glenmore Dam.
The day started with a huge number of Black-billed Magpies, American Robins, and American Crows. This crow was taking a bath when we spotted it, and definitely looked like it was enjoying itself!
A little further down the river we came across some Wood Ducks. This stretch of the Elbow River has historically been good for the Wood Duck population as there have been families along the river that regularly fed them. According to Gus, one winter there were nearly forty of them along a 100-meter stretch.
Another of the common backyard birds we saw in incredibly high numbers were the Red-breasted Nuthatches, which seemed to be a constant chorus of calls every time we stopped.
To add to the chorus were the Pine Siskins, seen in the hundreds on Sunday’s walk. They’re a nomadic species that can be found wherever there is a good pine or spruce cone crop, and will likely be a regular addition to our lists as the autumn progresses into winter.
As we got to Riverdale Park, nearly at the west end of this walks extent, the number of European Starlings seemed to balloon into massive proportions. They were sporting their Sunday best, too, with fresh autumn plumage and beautiful iridescent greens, purples, and yellows shining in the sunlight.
This Black-billed Magpie was one of a fairly high number as well, also in bright, iridescent colors.
As our walk neared its end, we managed to get some very good, close looks at a number of Northern Flickers, and while they’re not the most uncommon bird, they did seem to make themselves very well known by the end of the day. After the one in this photo took off, it flew within 10 feet of my head and was quickly followed by its mate.
Our walk finally came to a close, we were cursed with bad luck over the reservoir, seeing only a very small number of Rock Pigeons and Ring-billed Gulls flying over the dam, and sadly, none of the more charismatic of the waterfowl and/or gulls one might hope to see on such a large body of water.
Have a great week, and see you back here next Monday!