Tag Archive | inglewood bird sanctuary

Winter’s lingering grasp in Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

Posted by Dan Arndt

Another cold, snowy, and dull day here in Calgary. The Sunday curse has struck again, leaving us with a bitterly cold north wind, and the least bird activity we’ve seen all spring. While we did get some decent new birds for the year, and a couple of great surprises while walking in Inglewood Bird Sanctuary on Sunday, our participant numbers were still low, and so were the species we found.

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

While the wind was blowing and the skies were grey, our first new species of the day was the Eurasian Collared-Dove. I don’t know that I’ve ever actually seen one of these birds inside the bird sanctuary, or so it was a nice find!

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Eurasian Collared-Dove

As we approached the river, we were on the lookout for the Mountain Bluebirds that I had seen earlier in the week, but instead we happened across a group of American Pipits on the river bank, with a brief stop out on the nearest gravel bar before heading up stream.

American Pipits

American Pipits

As we watched the pipits and scanned the far bank, we were lucky enough to spot a Franklin’s Gull fly in and land among a few other gulls, but given how far it was, getting a clear shot was quite the challenge.

Franklin's Gull

Franklin’s Gull

We soon came upon a lone Coyote raiding a Canada Goose nest, and saw him stealing away an egg. Sad for the geese, but there were many pairs successfully nesting in the sanctuary, and their numbers really are ever in question. This one was seen nesting in the same cavity that I’ve seen her in for the last three years at least.

Canada Goose

Canada Goose

Our last surprise of the day was a second small flock of Bohemian Waxwings going down to the river for a drink before flying off. They stopped briefly for us before flying off, hopefully symbolizing the end of the winter weather and bringing on spring in full force!

Good birding!

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Friends of Fish Creek Winter Birding, Week 9 – Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

Posted by Dan Arndt

 

After last week’s debacle, I won’t be complaining about flat light, poor light, or a little cold weather every now and then. This week’s walk was in the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, and while the skies were overcast, the weather was above freezing and there were plenty of new migrants in abundance on the Bow River. The Northern Flickers were displaying and staking out new territory, Ring-billed and California Gulls were back on the river, and we even spotted a surprise American Wigeon amongst the thousands of waterfowl along the banks of the river! Spring is on the way!

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

 

These next few weeks are both incredibly sad, but also incredibly exciting for birders in Canada. With the temperatures warming, it means not only more hours of sunlight to allow greater opportunities to see more birds, but it also means the arrival of all the species that have been gone since September, October, or as late as November for some. It also means, sadly, the departure of our winter guests. Snowy Owls, Common and Hoary Redpolls, American Tree Sparrows, Rough-legged Hawks, and usually, the White-winged Crossbills back to either more northerly latitudes, or to higher elevations, until fall returns. One of the best places around town to find new arrivals in the spring, summer, fall and winter, is at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. For various reasons, it has just the right combination of trees, bushes, and prey species that make it the perfect habitat for many of our summer residents.

 

On our walk this week, we were greeted at the beginning of our route by a lone Mule Deer. Some years, there are between six and twelve Mule Deer that call this place home, much to the disappointment of many ground nesting birds, as the deer are known to be completely oblivious of nests and in many cases walk right over them.

Muley

Mule Deer

Another species in abundance on our walk were the Common Ravens. At times there were four or five of them grouped together calling back and forth and generally causing a ruckus. These birds typically don’t nest in the sanctuary, so either they were drawn to something along the river, or just choosing this place to air their grievances with each other.

CORA

Common Raven

The original administration and maintenance building of the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary is the Colonel Walker House. Originally built in 1910, and home to Colonel James Walker of the Northwest Mounted Police. You can read more about the house and Colonel Walker here.

Colonel Walker House

Colonel Walker House

Walker House 2

Colonel Walker House

Just outside the Walker House, we were treated to the sight of some recently emerging Richardson’s Ground Squirrels. The first to awaken in the spring are the males, looking to build up their fat stores in anticipation of the upcoming breeding season, to better fight for and defend a mate in the coming months.

Still looks a little sleepy.

Richardson’s Ground Squirrel

These weren’t the only animals looking to make the upcoming breeding season a productive one. We could hardly walk for a few minutes without hearing the calls of one of the many Northern Flickers announcing their territory with their distinct vocalizations, or raucous drumming.

NOFL

Northern Flicker

Even the Black-capped Chickadees were calling, defending their territory, and were a little bit less forward with us than they have been in the past few months, their attention also on other matters.

BCCH

Black-capped Chickadee

As we reached the southernmost point of our walk and turned back up the river, we were treated to the sight of over ten thousand waterfowl in the course of our walk, split between the Mallards and Canada Geese, with a few Common Goldeneye thrown in, and a pair of female American Wigeon for good measure.

MALL

Mallard

CAGO

Canada Geese

AMWI

American Wigeon (center) surrounded by Mallards

The real treat for those of us who’d been reading the reports all week was the return of the gulls. California Gulls had been reported all week. On Tuesday, only one was seen, but those numbers had swelled to over 30 individuals by today, and a trio of Ring-billed Gulls were also present.

CAGU

California Gull

CAGU2

California Gull

As we tore our eyes away from the river and began the final leg of our walk back to the start, a few of us straggled behind and were treated to the sight of a pair of Northern Flickers calling, challenging, and displaying at each other by fanning out their tail feathers and trying to simply look bigger than their rival.

NOFL2

Northern Flickers fighting over territory

On our way back out, we also found a second Richardson’s Ground Squirrel, this one a bit bigger and a bit more vibrant, also gathering food and preparing his own part of the sanctuary for his future mate and offspring!

Be very very quiet...

Richardson’s Ground Squirrel trying to hide. Completely unsuccessfully, I might add.

Here’s hoping your birding week is as successful as ours was! See you next week!

A Downtown Sanctuary in Inglewood

Posted by Dan Arndt

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary is quite probably the most well known birding locale within the city limits. As a new birder, it was an old standby for me, and helped me learn more about birds, and photography, in my starting years than any other place in the city. In the summer, barely two weeks would go by between visits, but I never found much to see in the winters. This course with the Friends of Fish Creek has opened my eyes to many more places within the city limits, but this place is one of the best “stand-by” locations I know of in a pinch, and quite often has a wide variety of unusual or first sightings within the city during migration, but also throughout the year.

Last weekend, on both Saturday and Sunday. I joined the Friends of Fish Creek birding course to assist Gus Yaki. Both days I saw new birds for the year, and had some great sights of old favourites.

I’d definitely have to count among the highlights the Snow Goose I saw the first morning out. Though it wasn’t much more than a speck on the horizon, it was a new one for me. Nothing more than a recording shot of the sighting, but I loved it.

Snow Goose

Snow Goose on left, flying far and fast away from me.

The Canada Geese were numerous on the river, but there were many new arrivals that were exciting to see, such as Northern Pintails, American Wigeons, and the first Ring-billed Gulls of the season.

Canada Goose

Canada Goose

Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail (top right)

American Wigeon

American Wigeon

Ring-billed Gulls

Ring-billed Gulls

Another of the great sights to behold was the beautiful male Harlequin duck, which had successfully overwintered on the open water at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. It seemed that it was very enthusiastic with its mate choices though, as it has been seen chasing a female Mallard or two occasionally.

Harlequin

Harlequin

Harlequin chasing female Mallard

Harlequin chasing female Mallard

A few other old standbys were on hand each day at the sanctuary. The iridescent and beautiful European Starlings, the nest building Red-breasted Nuthatches, the vocal and displaying Northern Flicker, and of course the charismatic and always enjoyable Richardson’s Ground Squirrels, poking their heads out for the first time this year.

European Starling
Richardson's Ground Squirrel

Richardson's Ground Squirrel

 

Sunday added again to the rogues gallery of fauna on display, from the Greater White-fronted Goose on the Bow River north of the Sanctuary, to the much better views of Northern Pintail, along with Herring Gulls, and a juvenile Northern Goshawk making quite a show of it.

Greater White-fronted Goose

Greater White-fronted Goose

Northern Pintail on Sunday

Northern Pintail on Sunday

Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk

Herring Gull

Herring Gull (middle rear) among California and Ring-billed Gulls

Another great week of birding! I’ll be back again this week to post the results of our excursion to Mallard Point yesterday, and the wonderful birds we saw there as well!

 

Good birding!