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Sunday Showcase: Black-crowned Night-Herons

Rob English took these photos north of the city in mid-August 2012. Black-crowned Night-Herons have arrived back in the Calgary area. Frank Lake is a good location to find them.

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Postcards from Mexico – Calgary Birds on their wintering grounds

Posted by Dan Arndt

While on vacation, I had planned to look for some of our old favourites from Calgary who might also be down here enjoying the warm weather for the winter. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed. I was a little surprised though at just what species I did find down here, and which ones I expected to find, and didn’t.

I do want to clarify too, that many of these birds spend all year long down here, but their range extends all the way back home to Calgary, which, as the crow flies, is about 4100 km. Quite staggering, when you consider that many of them make the migration from Calgary to this part of the world with very few stops for food or shelter.

Here are just a few of our fine feathered friends enjoying the sun, sand, and tequila down here in Mexico!

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird

American Coot

American Coot

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

Eurasian Collared Dove

Eurasian Collared Dove

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

American Redstart

American Redstart

Sanderling

Sanderling

Northern Waterthrush

Northern Waterthrush

American White Pelican and Peeps

American White Pelican and Peeps (along with a couple cormorants and Brown Pelicans)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Least Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper

Friends of Fish Creek Autumn Birding Course begins again – Week 2

Posted by Dan Arndt

 

This fall, Bob Lefebvre and I are running one of the Sunday morning groups this year, and while this is the second week for the group, it’s my first week back from vacation.

 

Lafarge Meadows, one of the locations I always am finding new birds at, was our location for the day, and in our 5.75 km walk up and down the river bank, dodging golf carts and buses, we managed to see a pretty decent number of species. The annotated map shows our general route, as we headed from the Boat Launch, clockwise following the river, then back north along the paved path.

Our Route

On the ponds at the north end, we were given good close looks at a Great Blue Heron, seen here giving a brief lecture to some unruly Mallards that had taken over its roost. It flushed them away, or at least attempted to, before going back to its business of catching its breakfast.

Great Blue Heron giving a lecture

Attempting to frighten off the surly Mallards

Soon the heron realizes the futility of its ways and goes back to fishing.

As we looked over the pond, we were briefly interrupted by a small group of migrants, including Common Yellowthroat, Orange-crowned Warblers, and a few Lincoln’s Sparrows, before we looked back up over the pond to see some familiar faces (or familiar bills, perhaps?) The always entertaining Bufflehead, ever-present Lesser Scaup, and a lone American Wigeon even  made an appearance.

 

Bufflehead

Lesser Scaup

American Wigeon

American Wigeon

As we trekked southward, into the fray with golf carts whizzing by us and the noise of what seemed like hundreds of visitors to some other festivities in the park, we veered off toward the river, where we saw no small number of Double-crested Cormorants, Lesser Yellowlegs, and even at least two Osprey, hunting for fish over the Bow River.

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

Lesser Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs

Osprey

Osprey

Even deeper into the brush and further from the trail we happened across a few more warblers in the trees, including this Yellow-rumped Warbler, and a pair of House Wrens angrily chipping away at us.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

While we tend to focus on the birds on the blog, we all have a soft spot for butterflies, and this Milberts Tortoiseshell that posed quite nicely for everyone was no exception. It also marked the beginning of our trek back to the north, with the sun at our backs.

Milberts Tortoiseshell

Milberts Tortoiseshell

As we were once again inundated with the golf carts and busy pathway, we kept our heads clear and our goals in sight, checking the ponds and sloughs on each side of the path as we went, and we turned up quite a few nice surprises. Each of them was more striking, with the Pied-billed Grebe surfacing now and again in an algae-choked pond, a pair of juvenile Ruddy Ducks in amongst the American Coots, and another Green-winged Teal flocking in with some more precocious Mallards!

Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Duck

Green-winged Teal

Green-winged Teal

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Finally, as the finish line was in sight and our long walk had ended, we found ourselves staring long and hard at this intrepid Cooper’s Hawk, soaring on the thermals in search of its next meal.

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Next week: Mallard Point!

Clash of the herons

Posted by Matthew Sim

On a recent bike ride of mine to Votier’s Flats in Fish Creek P.P. I came across a juvenile Great Blue Heron in a storm water pond so I got myself into a good position to photograph it. I sat watching and photographing the heron for some time when suddenly, an adult Great Blue flew in.

Juvenile Great Blue Heron

A rather impressive landing…

The adult heron seemed to “own” the ponds and did not take kindly to the young heron fishing in his waters. The adult proceeded to hunch himself up in a bid to frighten the juvenile.

All hunched up, the adult Great Blue proceeded to hurriedly chase the juvenile around the pond until finally the young heron took a running start and flew off.

Taking off with a running start.

Far from being content however, the adult flew after the young one and the two of them disappeared over the hills. I didn’t move from my position however, because I had a feeling that at least one of the herons would be returning. Sure, enough, several minutes later, the adult returned finally content at having chased the young upstart off of his territory.

Finally able to relax and scratch his head.