Spring-like weather has come to Alberta and the first migrants are trickling in. On Sunday morning, Ray, Mike and I birded the Frank Lake, Carseland and Shepard areas to the south and east of Calgary. Around Frank Lake, there were still a couple of very conspicuous Snowy Owls in the fields as well as hundreds (thousands?) of Canada Geese and Northern Pintails. We walked in to Basin 1 of Frank Lake and found two new team birds, Tundra Swan and Redhead. While looking at the waterfowl, six California Gulls flew over for another team bird.
Moving on to Carseland, the Bow River was surprising barren – we saw only a few Common Goldeneye below the weir. From there we did our requisite Gyrfalcon hunt in the Shepard area. Last Friday afternoon, Ray found one just east of Shepard but, of course, it had disappeared before Mike and I could reach the scene. That morning, Mike and I had a pleasant outing to the Willow Park suburb and various sites along the Bow River – it served as a nice reminder that we are birding for fun and not to get overly focused on our big year totals. In Willow Park, the American Robins were singing, Northern Flickers calling, Black-Billed Magpies were harassing a Sharp-shinned Hawk and a small flock of White-winged Crossbills were chattering away. Alas, no Red Crossbills but lots of other birds to enjoy.
Later that morning, Mike found our first Richardson’s Ground Squirrel for the year … a sure sign of spring as the ground squirrels are a major food source for prairie raptors.
|Richardson's Ground Squirrel|
Total species count is now at 143 – 130 birds and 13 mammals.