Well, things continue to hot up around Calgary as more and more returning birds make their way north. This time of year I like to go visiting ponds and sloughs all over Calgary and its outskirts as I never know quite what will be around.
One returning species that I particularly look forward to is the graceful American Avocet with its delicate upturned bill:
When the weather cooperates and I get a cloudless sky with minimal wind, it’s worth the effort to get up early and get shooting shortly after sunrise. Not only do you get great glass-like reflections from the water surface, but this also combines with warm, saturated colours from the golden sun which can add some interest to any shot:
In company with the avocets were a number of Yellowlegs:
However they were not exactly ‘best friends’ and the avocets would frequently chase away their more diminutive shorebird cousins:
Not to be outdone, a handful of Bonaparte’s Gulls made an appearance and after giving me a couple of squawking fly-bys to let me know they knew I was there, then quickly settled on the pond surface and proceeded to feed on what looked like snails:
Waterfowl are now back in great numbers and at some other ponds I came across the striking Red-necked Grebe:
As well as flotilla of Redheads:
As you can tell from the shot above, I don’t always shoot at water-level as often you get some attractive water reflections simply shooting from kneeling down.
While doing all this shooting, I was serenaded by the spring chorus of a dozen Yellow-headed and Red-winged Blackbirds – a sound that epitomises spring for me:
The surrounding shrubs and trees also produced a few new birds such as the White-crowned Sparrow:
and a resident-all-year Red-breasted Nuthatch who picking off newly emerging spiders:
Elsewhere I was very pleased to get some close-ups of Canvasbacks, which happened to be a target bird of mine this year as I’d never got any shots I was happy with until now:
as well as a Cinnamon Teal revealing its gorgeous wing plumage:
At Prince’s Island Park at the northern edge of downtown I was also pleased to see a pair of American Wigeons going about their day, with the male being particularly vocal:
This park also hosts dozens of Canada Geese:
and it was great to see my first goslings of the year – such photogenic yellow puffballs!:
Looking ahead, by the time you read this I should be on my way to Point Pelee National Park in Ontario to try & capture some warbler action. Needless to say I’m quite excited at the prospect, so with a bit of luck I’ll be able to share my results with you next month! Cheers, Tim.