Tag Archive | Fish Creek

Friends of Fish Creek Winter Birding – Week 1 – Fish Creek Provincial Park HQ and Sikome Lake

Posted by Dan Arndt

 

The beginning of the Winter birding course was very reminiscent of our last trip there with the autumn course. We started off with a light snowfall at the headquarters building at Bow Valley Ranch, visiting with the Great Horned Owls that have been regulars there for many years. This time though they were a bit easier to see, with the first one sitting high in the trees on the east end of the pathway, and the second just a little further west than its previous roost. Both were cashing in on their natural camouflage in spades, but given their placement in the trees, were slightly more conspicuous than before.

Great Horned Owl #1

Great Horned Owl #1

Great Horned Owl #2

Great Horned Owl #2

As we continued west towards the headquarters building, we were mobbed by the resident Black-capped Chickadees for their toll, paid in the form of sunflower seeds, while a few Golden-crowned Kinglets and Brown Creepers flitted among the spruce.

Black-capped Chickadee toll collector

Black-capped Chickadee toll collector

Brown Creeper

Brown Creeper

We spotted a decent sized flock of White-winged Crossbills in the trees at the headquarters before packing up and heading down to Sikome Lake. We stopped along the way to look at quite a number of Bald Eagles in the trees both on the roadside, and sitting over the Bow River. As it turns out, there was a deer carcass that was keeping their interest, which, by the time we were leaving the park, was down to only the cleanly stripped hide.

 

Down at Sikome Lake, the resident pair of Great Horned Owls was hiding out in the same roost as the lone owl was in December.

Great Horned Owls 3 & 4

Great Horned Owls 3 & 4 – There are two owls in this photo, seriously.

At this point, we split off from Gus Yaki’s group and headed off toward the Bow River on our own. We found a good number of waterfowl on the river, from Common Goldeneyes, to extremely comfortable looking Canada Geese.

Common Goldeneyes

Common Goldeneyes

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

On the north end of our walk, this huge flock of mixed Canada Geese, Mallards, Common Mergansers and Common Goldeneyes came into view. As we watched, they began to flush as not one, not two, but three Bald Eagles made their way closer. Two others stayed in the trees on either side of the river, just out of sight, while two sub-adult eagles flew by, along with one adult.

Geese, Mallards and more

Geese, Mallards and more

4th year Bald Eagle

4th year Bald Eagle

adult Bald Eagle

adult Bald Eagle

The walk back to the parking lot in the trees along the river was a little bit quieter than expected, yielding only a lone Northern Flicker, along with a Hairy Woodpecker, and four of these little White-breasted Nuthatches.

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

All in all, it was a good, solid start to a new year of birding, and a new birding course. Good birding, and thanks for reading!

 

 

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Lafarge Meadows – Finally!

Posted byDan Arndt

The final Sunday Morning excursion by the Friends of Fish Creek Winter Birding Course took us to Lafarge Meadows. After going there for the first time with the Fall course, I was looking forward to getting back there as the spring migrants began to filter through, and what a visit it was!

One of the birds that most non-birders consider a sure sign of spring, is the charismatic and well known American Robin, many of which were present and singing their spring song.

Another of the early migrants we were treated to at the beginning of the walk was the ever beautiful song of the aptly named Song Sparrow.

While the field marks weren’t easy to see from that distance, the song was so distinctive that there was no way you could mistake this bird for any other. Over at the boat launch we had some decent views of Common Mergansers (pictured below) and a pair of Lesser Scaup.

We then turned southward to head into LaFarge Meadows proper, checking a few of the ponds near the bridge where we found a few close-ups of some Lesser Scaup and American Wigeon.

As we edged further south along the river, we took note of the huge numbers of gulls both along the river, and in the ponds along the west side that were still frozen, and were greeted by some nicely posing Herring Gulls on a gravel bar in the Bow River, as well as a small number of another new bird for the year, the Franklin’s Gull.

Finally, as we headed back north toward the beginning of our route, I spotted a small bird atop a nearby tree, thinking it may be another sparrow, or maybe even an early swallow species, but was immediately alerted to its identity by the single sharp note of its call, identifying itself as a Northern Shrike!

As we reached the vehicles, all of us were forlorn at the prospect that this was our last walk of the season with that particular group, but all attendees were looking forward to the next round of courses, starting up immediately the following week! Travel will keep me away for the first two weeks of the course, from which I will post some photos on my regular schedule, and but until then, good birding!

Bird Profile: Ring-necked Pheasant

 

The male Ring-necked Pheasant is a very colourful bird with a loud, harsh and raucous “koork-KOK”, call; one that often emerges from grasslands, deep brush and agricultural land. The pheasant is native to Caucasus and Russia and has been introduced all over the world as a popular game bird.

Ring-necked Pheasant

 There is usually one male who guards his harem of plain, mottled females from other males, chasing them away during the breeding season. Pheasants are known to hunker down in a roost in very bad weather, going for days without eating. They nest and forage on the ground, eating seeds, wild fruits, nuts and insects.

 I had my own special encounter with a pheasant the other day. I rode my bike to Fish Creek and as I turned a corner, I came to within a couple meters of a pheasant. He was startled (so was I!) and in his haste to get away, slipped on ice! Definitely funny for me to see!

Elegance… This male Pheasant is trying to be as regal as possible. 

He hits the ice as he runs away and is unprepared…

Whoa!!! He definitely wasn’t ready for this!

Dignity regained… Or so he thinks. 

Posted by Matthew Sim