Rob English caught these two Bald Eagles, an immature and an adult, having a dispute over a perch.
As a follow-up to Bob’s post on the Christmas Bird Count this year, I am posting from my experiences last year.
For the 2010 Big Year birding here in Calgary, I decided to participate in my first Christmas Bird Count. I had heard great stories about this annual winter event and I was not disappointed. I was scheduled to a very productive route on the Bow River, with Southland Park and Carburn Park our main birding spots. We had a very good turnout for species, recording about 29, if I remember correctly. Some of the highlights on our route, were Killdeer, a Northern Shrike, a Rough-legged Hawk, a pair of Great Horned Owls and two immature Trumpeter Swans. These swans were seen continually in January of 2011 and were identified as one immature Tundra Swan and one immature Trumpeter Swan.
Overall, almost 200 people took part in the 2010 count, with 102 feeder-watchers and 92 birders in the field. Temperatures ranged from -15 to -13 degrees Celsius with some light snow falling in the morning. Birders in the field put in a combined
205 party-hours total, 230 km on foot and 881 km by car. These stats were compiled by Phil Cram, Donna and Arthur Wieckowski, Bob Lefebvre and John McFaul and can be more extensively viewed by following this link:
My group divided ourselves up into small parties in the morning, scanning the Bow River on either sides in and around Southland Park. Once we had spent several hours scouring the snow-swept landscape for birds, we headed to the nearest Tim Hortons for some warmth, where we traded stories and identification tips over refreshments. We headed back out, this time to Carburn Park, where we added Bohemian Waxwings, the shrike and some Barrow’s Goldeneyes. We ate lunch in our heated cars at Carburn and spent the afternoon searching our range for any missing species. That evening, all CBC participants from all over the city flocked to the Flynn’s house where we were served delicious chili and shared our tales from the day.
The 2010 Christmas Bird Count was very enjoyable; if you have never done it before I highly recommend it. Calgary is historically a very high count in North American for number of participants; last year we had a total of 194 participants which was the 7th highest count in the US and Canada (Edmonton was 1st in North America with 439 participants!!!). Calgary also had the most species of birds recorded on the CBC in Alberta with a grand total of 64.
I will be back in Calgary for the holidays and I hope to see you there!
Posted by Matthew Sim
I had a very slow birding summer, with a knee problem that kept me out of the field and off my bike for three months. But now my knee is better and I am back birding with Gus Yaki and the Friends of Fish Creek Society. I went out twice with this group to the Hull’s Wood/Sikome/Lafarge Meadows area in mid-September. Here are some pictures from those trips (click on the pictures to enlarge them).
A cormorant dries its wings.
Double-crested Cormorant, this time with the light on the right side of the bird.
The Osprey perched in a tree.
Red-tailed Hawk in flight.
Greater Yellowlegs, in one of the ponds by highway 22X.
We found a single Wood Duck (centre) hanging out with the Mallards.
Great Blue Heron on its usual rock.
Juvenile Bald Eagle.
This Cedar Waxwing was picking insects out of a spider web high in a tree.
Killdeer on the pond.
Killdeer on the river.
Common Raven calling near where they nested in Lafarge Meadows.
Finally, there is this bird, which we found sitting on a path that runs from the Sikome boat launch parking lot to the river. I’ll tell its story next week.
Posted by Bob Lefebvre
The May Species Count is an event held on the last weekend of May each year, in which birders try to find every species of bird in the Calgary area. Over the two-day period, teams or individuals scour their assigned areas to identify every bird species they see and hear, and also note the total numbers of each species. This year the count will be on May 28 and 29.
The area covered is huge – a circle 160 kilometres in diameter centred on the Centre Street bridge in Calgary. Organizers have broken the count circle into many smaller territories, and assigned volunteers to each area. We need a lot of birders to cover all this territory!
The Count Circle. The numbers indicate the territories to which birders or teams of birders are assigned. Click on the map to enlarge it.
There are still some territories that are not covered, so if you want to contribute to a very worthwhile citizen science project, contact the co-ordinator:
Terry Poulton – May Species Count, May 28-29, 2011
phone 403-274-7393 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Everyone is invited to participate, whether beginner or seasoned pro. You can do a whole day, a half day, or both days. Terry will try to assign you to an interesting route, and try to match new-comers with experienced birders, and drivers with riders. There are a wide variety of environments, from urban to prairie to foothills habitats. Most years, more than 200 bird species are seen in total within the circle.
This is a great opportunity to get involved in Calgary and area birding, and to see as many as one hundred species of birds in a single day. If you can identify most birds you see, you can survey an area yourself. If you are a new birder, you will be assigned to a team with other experienced birders where you can help to spot and count birds, and learn about the process.
If you are at all interested in this, please contact Terry to get more information. It’s one of the funnest birding experiences of the year, at the birdiest time of the year!
Posted by Bob Lefebvre