Tag Archive | bird count

New Year’s Day Bird Count 2013

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Once again I participated in the Fish Creek Park half-day bird count on New Year’s Day. Though not an official Christmas Bird Count, it is now in its 20th year.  Six teams spent the morning counting birds in different parts of this huge park, and then we met at noon to compile the results.

This year I joined Phil Cram’s team in the east end of the park.  We covered the Bow Valley Ranch, Sikome, LaFarge Meadows, and Hull’s Wood areas.

It was a beautiful mild sunny day, but we found it pretty quiet when we started at Bow Valley Ranch. We did have six White-tailed Deer pass through before sunrise.

IMG_5228

The first mammal of the day – and year.

We failed to find any roosting Great Horned Owls in the row of spruces, and it took a while before we heard even a chickadee. Eventually we heard some White-winged Crossbills in the tall spruces.

IMG_5225

Yes, there are crossbills in this photo.

Next we heard the high-pitched call of the Brown Creeper, and found four of them in the area.

IMG_5242

Brown Creeper.

Heading over to Sikome, we quickly found the two Great Horned Owls that roost there every winter in the trees behind the buildings.

IMG_5251

There are two owls here – one of them is doing its spruce-bark impersonation.

Again, the area was pretty quiet.  We did get a flicker and this Downy Woodpecker (but failed to find a Hairy Woodpecker or White-breasted Nuthatch, which are often seen there).

IMG_5260

Downy Woodpecker.

Over at the Boat Launch we had four White-breasted Nuthatches, and a flyover of a young Bald Eagle.

IMG_5294

IMG_5296

IMG_5267 (2)

Immature Bald Eagle.

On the river we failed to find anything besides Canada Geese, Mallards, Common Goldeneyes, Buffleheads, and Common Mergansers. We had hoped for Killdeer, Barrow’s Goldeneyes, and perhaps some other species of ducks.

IMG_5312

Mallards on the ice.

IMG_5321

Canada Goose flying over.

At the highway 22X bridge we checked for Rock Pigeons – in these bird counts every new species is important. You never know if any of the other groups will see one or not.

IMG_5314

Rock Pigeon, with colours that match the rust on the bridge.

Our final stop of the morning was at Hull’s Wood, where we saw a staggering number of Mallards – about 8000 (some of them were outside our territory and were counted by another group of birders). Again, there were few other species except the usual.

IMG_5324

IMG_5323

IMG_5326

Our best bird of the day was the last, a Northern Goshawk that was being harassed by magpies on the hillside.  We didn’t get great looks (and no photos) before it departed.

In the end we had 19 species of birds (and four mammals – Coyote, Eastern Gray Squirrel, and White-tailed Jackrabbit in addition to the deer). A good start to the new year.

Help Us With the May Species Count!

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.

How many Mallards?

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    tpoulton@yahoo.com

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