Early winter birding in Calgary

A male Lesser Scaup taking-off from a patch of open water

A male Lesser Scaup taking-off from a patch of open water

At this point in the year I had hoped to be presenting some shots of some of our annual winter visitors, particularly finches like grosbeaks, redpolls and crossbills. Alas, the grim winter finch forecast appears to be depressingly all-too-accurate to date and I have not seen one of these birds; a stark contrast to last year when they were oh-so abundant.

On the run way...a Lesser Scaup scrambles to get airborne.

On the run way…a Lesser Scaup scrambles to get airborne.

Well, you have to make the most of the opportunities you have so the past month I’ve been out scouting the rivers and the few remaining ponds and lakes with open water in search of waterfowl that have yet to leave, or have decided to tough out the winter for one reason or another.

A female Redhead does a fly-by, with a Scaup in the background

A female Redhead does a fly-by, with a Scaup in the background

A pair of Scaups doing a circuit of the pond

A pair of Scaups doing a circuit of the pond

One such pond is Elliston Park in Calgary’s east, where I have been able to practice my birds-in-flight shots. The ducks here regularly fly up & down the water as they are periodically flushed by passing dog walkers and the like.

Up, up...

Up, up…

...and...

…and…

...and away!

…away!

Another area I recently checked out was Fish Creek Provincial Park in south Calgary. The open river is somewhat of a magnet for goldeneye and mallards, which in turn attracts the attention of Bald Eagles who are always a sight to behold.

A Bald Eagle launches itself into the air, off on another duck patrol of the river.

A Bald Eagle launches itself into the air, off on another duck patrol of the river.

And finally, another bird that is always a treat to see is the Pileated Woodpecker. This female happened to fly across the road in front of my car and start hammering away in a tree just of the road in great light for photography – sometimes you get lucky!

A Pileated Woodpecker striking a pose in the sun.

A Pileated Woodpecker striking a pose in the sun.

 

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3 Responses to Early winter birding in Calgary

  1. Pingback: This Week in Birding 47 by Charlotte Wasylik | Nemesis Bird

  2. Pingback: Birding News #47 | Prairie Birder

  3. Beautiful pictures – flying shots are hard to get as clearly as you did… and I especially liked the Pileated Woodpecker.