Friday, 27 January 2012

Clark's Nutcracker and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch

Mike and I headed west of Calgary today, and added two bird species and one mammal species to the team list. Some of our resident species are often best seen in winter. We had no difficulty in finding two Clark's Nutcrackers in the community of Harvie Heights, which sits close to the Trans Canada Highway just before the entrance to Banff National Park. Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches come down from the mountains in winter, and the hamlet of Exshaw is usually a reliable place for them. A flock of 100 birds obligingly festooned trees beside Barrier Mountain Drive. Between Harvie Heights and Exshaw we encountered a flock of about 30 Bighorn Sheep, a new mammal for the team list.

We had started our day in Carburn Park in Calgary, in hopes of re-finding a Norrthern Saw-whet Owl seen there yesterday. We spent almost half an hour searching the area where the bird had been reported, but saw no sign of it. Good numbers of Black-capped Chickadees and Common Redpolls in the area might have led us to it, but they displayed no agitation.

As our drive home from Exshaw to Calgary took us close to the Water Valley area, we were unable to resist a detour in hopes of finding an owl there, but again we came up empty. These guys are proving problematic.

Temperature today in the minus 7 to minus 1 range, generally not too windy.

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