Sunday, 4 March 2012

Birding with style!

Phil & Brian
Earlier this week, we received our team T-shirts and this Saturday was our first chance to show them off.  I can’t say that the birds and mammals were impressed though.  Since it is difficult to see our design in the photo on the left, below is the image that was printed on the shirts.  So far we've seen 6 of the species that are on the shirt - Bald Eagle, Snowy Owl, Rough-legged Hawk, Pileated Woodpecker, Dark-eyed Junco and Moose.  With PEI being so small, you might have to take our word that it is represented by a Yellow Warbler.  Apart from the Wolf, we chose common species so we should be able to tick everything on the shirt.

Early Saturday morning, Bob Saunders, Phil, Mike and I headed southwest to Brown Lowery PP.  Brown Lowery is a square mile of dead spruce (well, not quite) and the 3-toed woodpeckers love it.  We counted at least 8 but did not find our target Black-backed Woodpecker.
American Three-toed Woodpecker (male)
After 3 hours of walking the trails, we headed for Millarville where this is a tremendous feeder setup on one of the acreages.  No new birds but we spent an hour just enjoying the Evening & Pine Grosbeaks and a Pileated Woodpecker along with a number of other species.

Pileated Woodpecker
On the way back to Calgary, we came across a large herd of Elk in a field.  At first we thought they were farmed Elk but the fences were way too low (there are a number of Elk farms in the area, all with very high fences) and the Elk were quite wary of us when we stopped to view them.
Elk herd in the foothills east of Millarville
The last stop for the day was to check the river at Carburn Park.  There was not much on the river but, in the sky, we were treated to two Bald Eagles – judging from their size, a smaller immature male and a larger adult female – doing some aerial acrobatics.
A young male after an older lady?  or vice versa?!
On Wednesday, we had planned an outing along the Bow River.  However, I was up early and decided to check out a potential Gyrfalcon spot on the way to our meeting point.  The Harris’s Sparrow (seen earlier in the year) was singing now and there were a ton of redpolls.  On my way out, I saw a large raptor come cruising over the field … that’s a falcon … that’s a Gyrfalcon!  Before chasing it, I called Phil … come on Phil, answer your phone.  No luck so I decided to text him – an immediate response.  Meanwhile, the Gyrfalcon perched on a transmission line tower.  Phil said that he and Mike would be there in about 10 minutes.  A raven decided to harass the Gyrfalcon but the falcon just moved to a nearby pole.  Ten minutes later, I had a call from Phil, “we’re almost there … just stuck behind a tractor”.  As you might guess, the Gyrfalcon decided to fly away and Phil and Mike arrived about 30 seconds later.  We cruised the roads for about 90 minutes and all that we found was a Prairie Falcon.  After a brief stop at the Bow river, I drove Phil home and, on the way, we finally found a new team bird – Merlin (Phil had already seen a few of them in the city while on his own).

Last Monday, Phil went out with Bob Saunders and found a couple of catch-up birds – Sharp-tailed Grouse and Golden Eagle.  I spent the morning working on my taxes and, pleased with my progress, decided to meet up with Phil and Bob at Frank Lake.  We walked in to the open water and picked up the Trumpeter Swan that has overwintered there.

Trumpeter Swan
We now have 127 bird species and 12 mammal species for a total of 139.  No new mammals but we appreciate the lead on the Striped Skunk and some other tips received by email.  Now we just need to convince ourselves that finding a skunk is worth losing sleep!



  1. I love your team shirts and I wish I had one! All of your photos are great, and I hope you see some new mammals soon.

  2. You guys look very spiffy in your new shirts. Great photographs. PEI is a beautiful place.