Friday, May 04, 2012

Calgary Day 1

Franklin's Gull @ Inglewood Today!
Little did we expect to go birding in shirt sleeve order on day one of this years Canadian trip, but with clear skies and a pleasant 17C at Inglewood Bird Sanctuary this morning the beautiful spring day was a perfect start.

This is our 3rd trip to Inglewood, a 36 hectare wildlife reserve on the outskirts of Calgary Alberta, running alongside the Bow River. The reserve has numerous nature trails and a large lagoon and being next to the river can throw up some interesting Gull species!

On arrival it wasn't long before Dee and I began to re-familiarise ourselves with North American species and of course it was inevitable that the first sighting was that of an American Robin, and the first calling was the ever present Northern Flicker! Calgary's spring is a good bit behind the UK and the trees are in fact only just beginning to come into bloom, equally in this neck of the woods the warblers are also only just filtering in and the only ones recorded today were several Yellow-rumped Warbler, a number of which being the Myrtle variety.

Blue-Winged Teal (Photo by Dee)
However, Tree Swallows were in good numbers and several pairs were already nest building, as the name suggests in various trees. We made our way down towards the Bow River area and it wasn't long before Dee was in here element. Being a firm mammal enthusiast she was delighted to come across her first Deer of the trip, when a large Mule Deer sauntered across our path, it wasn't long before the camera was hammering away.

The River itself was running very high but fortunately the several islands mid-stream were still showing well, producing a nice selection of Gulls. Californian, Herring, Ring-billed and Franklin's were all recorded, along with a more uncommon visitor to Inglewood, a lone Bonaparte's Gull, which sadly didn't stay long and offered no opportunity of a photograph. Also on the river were Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, American Wigeon and a single Harlequin Duck.

Yellow-rumped Warbler ( Myrtle)
While taking a short break overlooking the various Gull population Dee and I were treated to a spectacular Raptor-Fest, when a Bald Eagle sent the whole place into a frenzy. What followed was just stunning with the invader being set upon by firstly a pair of Coopers Hawk, then followed by an Osprey which also took offence! Dee in fact has some amazing images of the battle and I'll save these for publication on our return to the UK.

We spent the rest of an enjoyable morning touring the remainder of the nature trails, often stopping to take in the various raptors soaring overhead, Swainson's Hawk, American Kestrel and Red-tailed Hawk were all recorded, the latter of which are nesting at the reserve and we managed some good views of the birds at the nest.

Mule deer (Photo by Dee)
The lagoon, although generally quiet did have several species on view, Wood Duck, Redhead and Blue-winged Teal. The wooded areas offered a good number of Downy Woodpecker's, a small number of White-crowned Sparrow's, along with Dark-eyed Junco and a single Red-winged Blackbird. Starlings were numerous, causing a good deal of confusion with thier song mimicary, and at least a dozen nesting pairs were recorded.

The lovely weather also had several Butterflies on the wing, but unfortunately with my limited knowledge of North American species the only one I could possitively identify was Mourning Cloak. I know what my bedtime reading is tonight!