Sunday, 1 January 2012

Let the fun begin!

Phil, Brian, Ray & Mike
Mike and Phil usually participate in an unofficial count for Fish Creek Provincial Park held each year on Jan. 1 and this year Ray and I decided to join them as did Phil and Mike's wives.  The temperature was -10° C and there was a low layer of cloud (or ice fog) that blocked the sun all morning.  Our section was in the SE corner of the park where Fish Creek flows into the Bow River.

White-winged Crossbill
We started near the Bow Valley Ranch visitor center and found a few species – Northern Flicker, Great Horned Owl, White-winged Crossbill, Common Raven, Black-billed Magpie, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Black-capped Chickadee.  I hope to photograph most of the species we see this year but got off to a bad start as the lighting was terrible.

We moved on to Sikome Lake and added White-breasted Nuthatch and Downy Woodpecker.  From there we went to the boat launch on the Bow River and headed south under Highway 22x. 
Ice fog over the Bow River
Conditions were not ideal as a low mist shrouded the river making it difficult to see anything more than 50 m distant. We picked up the expected Mallard, Canada Goose, Common Goldeneye and Common Merganser. Mixed in with these species, we spotted a strange looking Lesser Scaup (first winter bird we think) and a Green-winged Teal. 

1st winter Lesser Scaup

As we walked along the river, a Killdeer took flight, followed by another and a few more – 10 in all!  Further along, a Belted Kingfisher (a good winter bird for Calgary) flew up into a tree.  Finally we spotted some Bufflehead as well as a Gadwall.  Returning back to the boat launch, we saw a Bald Eagle perched in a tree. 


Belted Kingfisher
 Finally we spotted some Bufflehead as well as a Gadwall. Returning back to the boat launch, we saw a Bald Eagle perched in a tree. 
Gadwall in the mist
The last part of our area, Hull’s Woods produced no new bird species but we finally found a couple of mammals – Muskrat and Eastern Gray Squirrel.

Finally some fur! Muskrat
A final check back at Bow Valley Ranch yielded a pair of Rock Pigeons for a total of 20 bird species and 2 mammals … nothing that we won’t see later in the year but a good start for our big year.
Note regarding our reported species and totals - on this blog we will be listing a team total meaning that at least 2 of us recorded the species on a team outing involving at least 2 of the team.


1 comment:

  1. Good luck on your Big Year, I can't wait to read more about your progress. Alberta is a great province to start in because there are wonderful birds and also since it is my home province.