Birding and Camping…it must be summer!

I love birding and I love camping (both of which I consider a form of ‘candy for the soul’), so when the two combine in summer I’m in a particularly happy place!

Spotted Towhee at Dinosaur PP

Spotted Towhee at Dinosaur PP

My first family camping trip this year was out to Dinosaur Provincial Park in south-eastern Alberta, world-renowned for its ‘badlands’ landscapes as well as the incredible amount and variety of fossils found there. The Park has a nice campground and also offers lots of short hikes for families with young children like me. And for the birder, you get to see several species that aren’t that common elsewhere in the province such as the Brown Thrasher and Lark Sparrow:

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

Other more common birds include:

Western Kingbird

Western Kingbird

House Wren

House Wren

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

A great treat was to find and photograph my target bird of the trip, the Yellow-breasted Chat:TH1D0601d&b-v3-fb TH1D0463d&b-v3crop-fb TH1D0439d&b-fb TH1D0431v2-fb

But a word of caution if you visit Dinosaur: while birders like to spend a lot of time looking up, be sure to look down regularly here so that you don’t step on one of these:TH1D0078d&b-fb

….yes, the venomous Prairie Rattlesnake calls Dino home and I definitely enjoyed the opportunity to photograph and observe one at close, but safe, quarters. TH1D0157d&b-fb

However, it was right on the trail and you do need to keep an eye out. Indeed, the weekend following our trip a young girl was bitten by a rattler while running across the long grass behind the campground (she spent a week in hospital but is fine, I gather). All that said, personally I’d rather take my chances with a snake here than a bear at the mountain campgrounds…because unlike the snake, the bear is the one that will decide whether you live to tell the tale of your encounter!

A weekend back in Calgary allowed me to check some local ponds and some waterfowl were still putting on breeding displays, such as this Ruddy Duck:

Ruddy Duck performing the `bubble bath`courtship display.

Ruddy Duck performing the `bubble bath`courtship display.

but most seemed to be tending to their hatch year offspring, such as this American Coot that kept a close eye on me:

American Coot

American Coot

Our next camping destination was again to south-eastern Alberta, this time Kinbrook Island PP on Lake Newell. Flycatchers of all shapes and sizes were prevalent:

Least Flycatcher

Least Flycatcher

Western Wood Peewee

Western Wood Peewee

Western Kingbird

Western Kingbird

While various gulls seemed to have taken up residence in a nearby field as well, this one here loudly proclaiming its rights to a roadkill ground squirrel it had found:TH1D1753

While at Kinbrook, I took a drive around the surrounding area to see if I could find any Ferrugionous Hawks of which I spied two at long range, but Longspurs were in good numbers throughout:

Chestnut-collared Longspur

Chestnut-collared Longspur

And while I was out shooting the longspurs, I was delighted to come across this small family of grazing Pronghorn:

Pronghorn

Pronghorn

Back at the campground, the surrounding marshes are home to a number of Marsh Wrens who never cease to amaze me with their bottomless energy levels that enable them to sing (or rather chatter) away from dawn to dusk:TH1D1860d&b-fb

I`m always happy to photograph these little characters:

Marsh Wren

Marsh Wren

Have a fun & safe summer!

Cheers,

Tim.

 

 

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2 Responses to Birding and Camping…it must be summer!

  1. Tim Hopwood says:

    Thanks Gilda! Going forward I think I will try and include practical tips on photography to potentially help reduce the envy 😉

  2. Gilda Blackmore says:

    As usual, envy and admiration! Such phenomenal photographs! Sigh.