Monday, July 4, 2016

Alberta Birding Trip, June 2016

I’ve never been to Alberta (AB) before, so needless to say when a mid-June business trip to Calgary came up I was most excited to have an opportunity to start my AB province list.  One option would be to squeeze in a bit of birding time before and after work each day as time permitted.  But that would only allow for limited birding time, and especially limit the birding sites to those in the greater Calgary area.  So given the potential for a significant number of new province birds, I decided to add a couple vacation days to the trip to do some more extensive AB birding. 

And then a couple days later I looked at the maps and realized that Calgary was only a couple hours driving time from the British Columbia (BC) border - with a little extra driving I could work on my BC list as well.  Although I have birded in BC, all my birding has been in Vancouver and nearby coastal areas, and my list was just 144, meaning I had some significant potential to add inland birds to my BC list as well.  As a result I decided to make it into an even bigger western Canada birding trip, with at least 3 birding days in each province – spending time in the mountains, in the foothills, and in the prairies.  Plus I could still bird in AB before or after work each day during my business trip.  

Now it was time for research.  In AB I concentrated on locating birding spots in the greatest variety of habitats as possible, using site guides provided on the Nature Calgary website.  I also tried to find locations with good summer reports on eBird, though mid-summer data were limited at most locations.  All this was fine-tuned with some excellent advice from local Calgary birder Bob Lefebvre.  I hoped a successful trip would yield at least 150 birds for AB.

This post details the AB portion of the trip on Days 1-5.  The previous post summarized the entire trip; the next post will detail Days 6-10 in BC. 

Day 1 – Evening – Frank Lake

One of the single best birding locations in the greater Calgary area appears to be Frank Lake, located about 50 km southeast of Calgary.  This location features a large shallow lake and marshes surrounded by grasslands – so there are lots of potential species at this one location. 

During my hour’s drive there after work that evening I spotted the first 20 species for my AB list, including a nice Osprey nest right on a street light over the highway, and the first of many Franklin’s Gulls I would see circling overhead each day I was in and around Calgary.  I also had a flyover Turkey Vulture that turned out to be the only one I would see in AB.

When I finally arrived at Frank Lake I was amazed at the sheer number of birds on the lake.  Within a few minutes I had a clean sweep of the expected dabblers, and with a bit of scanning picked up 6 species of diving ducks plus Eared and Western Grebes.  In the marshes I spotted Great Blues, Black-crowned Night-Herons, the only White-faced Ibises of the trip, and several calling Soras.  The mudflats had 6 species of shorebirds including Stilts, Avocets and Wilson’s Phalaropes.  And then there were numerous California and Ring-billed Gulls, along with Forster’s Terns and a lone Common Tern flying about.  While scoping the wetlands there were almost constant calls of Savannah and Vesper Sparrows from the adjacent grasslands behind me, and Clay-colored Sparrows wherever there was some low bushes.  But perhaps the biggest surprise of the stop was a flyover Short-eared Owl in broad daylight.

And then there were the baby birds.  There were duck and Coot babies everywhere, including this brood of Ruddy Ducks, photographed with just my iPhone– likely the first baby Ruddy’s I’ve ever seen.

And who can pass up baby Stilts?

After feeling like I had picked up most of the likely species at the lake proper, I started to drive through the grasslands and farmlands around the perimeter of the lake.  At one point I found a wet meadow which held a nice colony of Nelson’s Sparrows.  And across the road in a bit drier meadow there was a colony of LeConte’s Sparrows.  It was very interesting listening to the songs of these 2 species virtually side-by-side.  One of the last species I added was a Great Horned Owl calling from a small oasis of trees at a homestead in the prairie.  I called it quits for the evening with a respectable tally of 68 species – a good start for my AB list.

Day 2 – Dawn at Weaselhead Natural Area

I had selected Weaselhead Natural Area in the outskirts of Calgary as my pre-work spot on Day 2.  And with my internal clock still on Eastern Time it was pretty easy to be there at dawn even though that was at 5:20 local time.  This site has many miles of trails through lush woodlands, and in my limited time I chose one trail in a riparian habitat and one that passed through upland woodlands.  The parking area was up on a bluff providing this excellent sunrise view of the park below.

One of the first birds I heard when I arrived sounded like a perfect Chestnut-sided Warbler.  I know a lot of eastern passerines are seen quite far west in Canada, but upon checking the range maps I realized that Chestnut-sided wouldn’t be expected this far west.  I got closer to the bird and played a bit of Chestnut-sided tape and I was instantly mobbed by a Yellow Warbler.  That was the first of several species I would hear on my trip with less-than-typical dialects.  As I crossed the river into the park I found a family of Common Mergansers and flyover Common Goldeneyes.  The riparian trail had patches of grassy woodlands featuring numerous Clay-colored Sparrows, and the most common birds in the conifers were Red-breasted Nuthatches and Pine Siskins.  Singing Veery’s seemed to be everywhere.  In one wetter area I had a nice combination of song featuring an Olive-sided Flycatcher, Least Flycatchers, a Lincoln’s Sparrow, a Northern Waterthrush, and a “singing” Calliope Hummingbird. 

As soon as I moved from the riparian areas to the upland woods the birdlife changed significantly, with common singers now being Red-eyed Vireos and Western Pewees.  At one point a flock of Robins were squawking about something, which ended up being my only Cooper’s Hawk for AB. 

And then I came upon the first of several rarities for my trip.  Up ahead on the trail about 40 feet away was a Catharus thrush hopping along with its back to me.  My first reaction was that it was a Wood Thrush – uniform orangey back and tail, and robust look (much heavier bodied than the other Catharus).  I thought I was pretty far west for a Wood Thrush and quickly checked the range map – this was VERY far west for a Wood Thrush.  Luckily it was still hopping in the trail in front of me, so it was time to concentrate on the bird and get more field marks!  After maybe a minute the bird turned sideways and it revealed large dark spots on a white background on the chest and flanks.  Of course this was much bolder spotting than the other Catharus thrushes.  The only other bird to eliminate was a juvenile Robin, but the spots were on a white background and the back was too orangey.  In a few more seconds the bird hopped off the trail into some thick brush and was gone.  Total viewing time might have been a couple minutes.  I reported it to local birders but don’t think anyone else was able to track it down.

I was hoping to end my early morning walk with 100 species for AB, but the tally was just 99.  But then as I pulled into the parking lot for work I heard a singing Chipping Sparrow for #100.

Day 2 – Evening – Water Valley

Bob Lefebvre had suggested the Water Valley area as a premier birding spot, and it certainly lived up to his recommendation.  Located northwest of Calgary, this area is in the higher elevation foothills with extensive conifers in the upland areas and excellent alder marshes in the lowlands.  To get there I drove through nice wetlands along Horse Creek Road picking up species like Snipe, Solitary Sandpiper, and Alder Flycatcher.  The Alder was tick #1,000 for Canada – somewhat significant as that used to be the ABA threshold for reporting your Canada ticks.  And I can’t forget more singing Nelson’s Sparrows.  Here is a shot of the habitat in this area – can you spot the Snipe teed up on the post?

As I climbed in elevation I starting picking up species more typical of these mountainous habitats, first adding species like Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warblers, Juncos, and quite a number of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers (couldn’t turn any into Red-naped).  Then in even higher elevations I heard many Tennessee Warblers (the most common warbler species at these elevations), Swainson’s Thrush, Purple Finch, and the like.  Then I ran into two different pairs of Evening Grosbeaks – I haven’t seen this gorgeous species in several years.  Then I added more boreal species like Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, and Golden-crowned Kinglet.  One really nice stop had singing Purple Finch and Dusky Flycatcher, and a flyover Rose-breasted Grosbeak at about the western edge of its otherwise “eastern” range.  And speaking of “eastern” birds, I also heard a Cape May Warbler which was singing a more typical Black-and-white song – luckily I was able to see the bird to confirm it.

I ran out of time (and stamina!) before I could bird all the great habitat in this area.  In hindsight I spent too much time in the lower elevations instead of heading right up to Water Valley – but that will help me prioritize my time if I have a future trip to the area.  I ended the day toward sunset with 124 species in AB.

Day 3 – Evening - Highwood Valley

After work on Day 3 I was tempted to go back to bird more of Water Valley, but instead decided to head to a new area about an hour southwest of Calgary called Highwood Valley.  Although I would add a number of new species in this area, birding was pretty slow in most spots, so who knows if I made the correct decision. 

My first stop was at a ridge along the road that the site guide said could have Golden Eagles – and sure enough I found one perched on a tree high up on the ridge.  Several later stops at lower elevations were very slow, adding just a Say’s Phoebe to my list.  Then as I climbed in elevation I made one stop at a campground and added singing Orange-crowned, Wilson’s, and MacGillivray’s Warblers.  Plus I labored over a singing bird that I could have sworn was a Purple Finch that turned out to be a Warbling Vireo – another bird giving a song that is not typical of the ones I’m used to in the east.  I also got extremely lucky in this area finding a Dipper feeding two juveniles – my only Dippers of the trip despite checking out a lot of suitable riverbed habitat.  Here is a picture of the river and nice scenery where I had the Dippers.

Eventually I made my way up to an intersection where the site guide mentioned there was a small convenience store with a hummingbird feeder.  After a few minutes without any activity at the feeder I realized why - there was a male Rufous Hummingbird perched nearby that was keeping all the other birds off the feeder.  Once I finally found its perch it was most cooperative, affording this phonescoped photo. 

With a couple additional stops further up into the mountains I added my first Mountain Chickadee and “Audubon’s” Yellow-rump, and a Willow Flycatcher at a spot recommended in the site guide.

My final stop was as the Ptarmigan Cirque trail, which is a 2.5 km hike up above treeline into tundra habitat, where targets include Pipit and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, and perhaps even a Ptarmigan.  In the meadow at the base of the climb there were several singing Fox and White-crowned Sparrows and Pacific Wrens which were indicative of the elevation I had gained on my drive.  And speaking of elevation gain – the site guide mentions that the Ptarmigan Cirque trail gains 230 m of elevation to get above treeline.  That didn’t sound like much until I had to make that strenuous hike, especially at the end of the day.  The woods had numerous Golden-crowned Kinglets and Siskins, along with several Hermit Thrushes, but was quiet otherwise.  And when I finally reached the tundra I had more singing Fox and White-crowned Sparrows and Pacific Wrens.  As I continued to walk through the tundra, finding no other species, I started to realize that I didn’t need to make this hike at all - all these species were down at the base of the trail.  Though the scenery was spectacular (the valley below in this picture is where I started my hike!).

I was nearing the end of the tundra portion of the trail when I spotted a small passerine flying overhead – with a bounding finch-like flight I realized it was a Rosy-finch.  Not the best of views, but good enough to count.  Then just a minute later another passerine flew overhead showing the characteristic white outer tail feathers of the American Pipit.  Later I found 2 more Pipits feeding in the tundra, and was able to get this photo holding my iPhone up to my binoculars.

That gave me 14 new AB birds for the day, ending Day 3 with 138 for my province list.

Day 4 –

This was my first day of vacation meaning my first full day of birding.  And also now that my AB list had grown to a critical mass it was time to switch to principally chasing after specific target species rather than just birding in good habitats.

I left Calgary pre-dawn in route to locations in the prairie about 2 hours to the southeast.  The first spot was an area of native prairie southeast of the town of Brooks where eBird posts from about a month earlier included several locations for Baird’s Sparrow, Sprague’s Pipit, Chestnut-collared Longspurs, Marbled Godwit, Long-billed Curlew and the like.  This was a very similar mix of birds I saw while birding in prairie habitat a few years back in the Dakotas and Montana.  I absolutely love these prairie birds, especially Baird’s Sparrow, and was really looking forward to birding this location.  Though since the most recent eBird posts were now nearly a month old, I was a bit concerned that these birds may not be still actively singing and nesting in the area.

My first stop was at the north end of this region at the corner of Range Road 132 and Township Road 162 – the location of a Longspur in eBird.  As I stopped the car I noticed a bird perched on the fence nearby – a male Chestnut-collared Longspur!  It was the first of what I conservatively estimated to be at least 10 birds in 3 different locations.  While I was watching the Longspur I heard and then saw a calling Horned Lark – not listed in the earlier eBird posts.  And then I heard a couple singing Bobolinks – another one not mentioned previously on eBird.  I then turned my attention to another stretch of fencing and noticed a small dark bird perched on the wire.  Initially I thought it might be another Longspur but it was a male Lark Bunting.  This is a late arriving species – although only 1 bird was spotted in the area a month earlier I saw at least 10 that morning.  An excellent start! 

A short distance to the south I made another stop to listen to the singing prairie birds and heard the call of a Sprague’s Pipit overhead.  Although I never did see any Sprague’s that morning, I guessed I heard at least 5 in the area.  This stop also had singing Longspurs, Lark Buntings, Vesper Sparrows, and a Brewer’s Sparrow – a classic chorus of prairie birds.

That is except for Baird’s – one of my key targets.  I went to every spot where they had been reported in the May eBird posts but could not find a single bird.  Do they only sing earlier in the Spring and Summer?  Maybe they were still there but just quiet.  Or maybe they are done nesting altogether and have moved out of the area.  In any case, although I was happy to find so many other targets, including several not seen in May, I was still very disappointed to not find the Baird’s.

I also did not find Marbled Godwit and Long-billed Curlew as prairie nesting birds, but found a Godwit a short distance away in a flooded field acting as a non-breeding shorebird.  Hopefully the Curlew would come later too.

The next stop was at Dinosaur Provincial Park.  As the park brochure says, this site “is world renowned for its abundant fossils, riverside cottonwood groves, and stunning badlands.”  And based on recent eBird reports, these habitats held about a dozen birds that I needed for my AB list.  So although I had a list of key targets for this site, I was a bit unsure where exactly to find them in the park.  But my general strategy was to bird the cottonwoods for riparian birds, and then find a trail mentioned in the site guide that follows Little Sandhill Creek south from the day-use area into the badlands.  First I made a quick stop at the park headquarters to pick up a map, and as I walked up to the building heard my first target - the first of many Rock Wrens I would hear in the park.  Then I parked in the main parking lot and headed into the campground to check out the cottonwoods grove and find the hiking trail. 

It was unfortunately around midday when I finally got to the cottonwoods, and the campground was pretty quiet except for a number of singing Western Pewees and Least Flycatchers.  But eventually I found two quiet Baltimore Orioles foraging in the trees – my only ones for the trip.  I then ran into a couple birders camping there who mentioned that they had Brown Thrashers nesting behind their camp site.  We walked up to their camper and there was a Thrasher just as they promised.  And then a Spotted Towhee called in the brush nearby.  That gave me 4 targets before leaving the campground. 

I then found the day-use area and the trail heading to the south.  The trail ran between the base of the cliffs of the badlands and the thick brushy riparian areas along the creek at the bottom of a broad valley covered in sage and grasses.  This was a very nice setting in habitats I haven’t been in yet in AB, though the mid-day heat and the potential for poisonous snakes were concerns to be aware of.

One of my targets was the Violet-green Swallows that breed in the cliffs along with the aptly named Cliff Swallows.  I’m used to seeing Violet-greens in higher altitude settings, but not seen them at cliffs before.  But it didn’t take long to find the Violet-greens once I ran into groups of Cliff Swallows.  And of course there were a number of Rock Wrens in this habitat as well.  Next I spent time focusing on the thickets to find Chats and Loggerhead Shrikes that had been recently reported in the park.  The Chats were easy – I ended up hearing 5 different birds singing despite the mid-day conditions.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find any Shrikes during my long walk in the valley, though at one point I might have heard one calling.  Along the way I also encountered numerous Lark Sparrows in the sage habitat. 

At one point as I continued up the valley I started to hear what sounded like bird begging calls from one of the steeper sections of cliffs.  The calls continued as I got closer and I wondered if they could be from a family of raptors of some type.  I began to scan the cliffs with my binocs hoping to find the source of the noise and eventually spotted a Prairie Falcon clinging precariously to an almost vertical part of the cliff.  Then I found a second bird perched much the same way.  And finally I found a third Falcon perched on a much more stable ledge.  Perhaps this was an adult teaching its two young how to fly.

I returned to the campground having missed the Shrike, but didn’t feel too bad since they were reported on just 1 of 3 recent eBird lists.  The more significant misses were the Pheasants and Nighthawks reported on all 3 lists.  And the lists were from midday so I wondered if the Nighthawks were spotted roosting instead of in flight.  So on my walk back to the car I once again walked through the campground, and this time I slowly checked low cottonwood branches for roosting Nighthawks, but to no avail.

I decided to try the same approach in a different part of the park called the Cottonwood Trail.  Since there was no campground in this location, I wondered if this more remote location might be the spot where the other birders were seeing the Nighthawks.  This trail started through some brushy grasslands before skirting along the edge of a large cottonwood grove.  As I walked along the grassy area I started to think that this could be a good spot for Pheasants, and also wondered if they might respond to tapes of their calls.  I was just about to play a bit of tape when a Pheasant called in the distance.  Unfortunately my attempts for Nighthawks were not as successful.  However, I did add a distant Kingfisher where the trail paralleled the Red Deer River – not a species reported recently from the park.

Feeling pretty happy to have seen or heard all but 2 of my targets, plus the Kingfisher as a bonus bird, I went back to park facilities and bought a celebratory ice cream.  While heading back to the car after enjoying my treat, I heard what I thought was a distant "peent" call – sure enough there was a Nighthawk flying over the cottonwoods in the distance.

Just after I exited the park I got back into an area with cellphone reception and pulled over to make a call back to work.  Since I hated to take a break from birding, I chose a spot that looked birdy to make the call, and it was a good choice.  Just a couple minutes into the call I noticed some birds perch on distant fenceposts.  As I scanned the posts a couple were blackbirds but I got a quick glimpse of one bird just before it flew that looked to be gray in color – perhaps a Shrike?  I got out the scope and spotted the bird as it returned – indeed a Loggerhead Shrike.  I left the park with 158 on my AB list, including all of my targets for the park.

Next I was heading to Kinbrook Provincial Park where target Red-necked Grebes had been reported.  Plus there were a couple tantalizing reports of 2 or 3 Swans in the area variously reported as both Tundras and Trumpeters.  But first along the way I thought I’d make at least a half-hearted try for Eurasian Collared Dove.  There were only a few recent reports of ECD in the area in eBird, and most were of just single birds scattered here and there.  One of those locations was of a lone bird reported nearly a month earlier in the little hamlet of Patricia.  I had seen a sign for Patricia on my way to Dinosaur Park, so since it was just a couple minutes off my route, I thought that it was worth a quick try on the way back.  I figured the birder had just happened to spot the bird while passing by on the main road through town.  So I decided to do the same – but came up empty.  Though it was nice to find both Kingbirds together at one homestead.  I turned around and decided to wander around the side roads just a bit when I spotted a distant Dove on the wire – it was indeed a Eurasian Collared Dove.  It’s nice when eBird delivers, and also nice that the Dove was still around.  Interestingly, although this was the only ECD I would find in AB, I had them in numerous locations in the BC portion of my trip.

About 30 minutes later I arrived at Kinbrook Provincial Park.  Although the key feature of this park is the campground that is on a peninsula jutting out into large Lake Newell, I figured my target Red-necked Grebe was more likely spotted in the marshes that flanked the entrance road to the park.  I found a spot to pull over and started to scope the marsh.  Within in a minute I found a pair of Grebes, and then another bird on a nest.  Although I was focused on grebes while scanning the wetlands I remembered briefly noticing a couple large diving ducks that didn’t seem like they were the normal Ring-necks, Scaup, or Redheads which were nesting in almost every AB wetlands I birded.  I refound these birds and was surprised to see that they were White-winged Scoters – a bird on my target list though surprisingly not a rarity on eBird.

Next it was on to try to find the Swans.  The eBird reports listed these birds at the Rolling Hills Sloughs, which appeared to be a rather general grouping of ponds covering a pretty large area just southeast of Lake Newell.  And there were no specific locations provided in the reports, but how difficult would it be to find these large white birds?  I started driving down a very rough dirt road into the area which first skirted along the edge of the lake.  I noticed a number of gulls perched on sandbars and luckily decided to scan through them since once flock included my only Caspian Tern of the trip.  But despite several stops at coves of the lake I couldn’t find any Swans, though I did find 3 more Red-necked Grebes.  

Then I finally got to the slough area, and made numerous stops there as well but found no big white birds.  I couldn’t help but think that I wasn’t looking in the right places when I got to the last small lake and again found no Swans.  But this lake had some considerable mudflats, and a number of waterfowl, so I took my time to bird this spot in detail.  I started birding the mudflats and first found a couple Willets and Marbled Godwits, along with a number of Avocets and Stilts.  Then I spotted the first of 3 Black-bellied Plovers in stunning breeding plumage – a “write-in” on eBird.  Next I scanned to the left where the waterfowl were and found yet another White-winged Scoter, and a glimpse of a male Goldeneye just before it dove.  When it resurfaced I realized it was a Barrow’s – another eBird write-in.  Just as I was giving myself a high five I heard calls I wasn’t familiar with and watched a flock of at least 50 Godwits drop down into the lake.  I scanned through the flock hoping for Long-billed Curlews to be mixed in, and finally found one off to the side.  And with one last scan I noticed a breeding plumage Horned Grebe.  So although I missed the Swans, I added 5 new species to my AB list, none of which had been reported in the area recently.  I ended up with 98 species for the day, and my AB list now stood at 165.

Day 5

My last day in AB was my only day in the mountains starting in beautiful Banff National Park.  And although the weather was rainy and foggy most of the day, the scenery was spectacular – and the birds were pretty good too.  I started at dawn at Lake Louise, and planned to spend much of the morning hiking the trails in the area.  The first hour was rainy and cold (temps in the low 40s), with a low cloud deck.  

The trail along the edge of Lake Louise featured a few singing Pacific Wrens, White-crowned Sparrows, Juncos, Chipping Sparrows, Siskins, and my first Varied Thrushes for the trip.  But in general it was pretty slow.  

When I reached the trailhead to the Tea House the rain finally stopped and the birdlife picked up as well.  As I started to gain elevation on the trail I started hearing singing Hermit and Swainson’s Thrushes and Golden-crowned Kinglets, along with Tennessee Warblers from high in the conifers and Wilson’s Warblers from the brushy areas.  Especially when I got to openings in the conifers I would run into small groups of birds that included Boreal and Mountain Chickadees, Juncos and more Kinglets of both species.  At one spot I heard what sounded like a Lazuli Bunting, unexpected at this high elevation.  But I tracked it down and sure enough it was a singing male Lazuli.  The significance of this new bird is that it was Total Tick #14,000 for me – a nice milestone.  In this same location I finally saw a pair of Townsend’s Warblers, after hearing songs in several locations that I thought were probably Townsend’s but couldn’t be sure.  Several of these birds were singing songs that sounded exactly like the alternate songs of the closely related Black-throated Green Warbler.  But since the BT Green is not expected here, I assumed they were likely songs of the very similar Townsend’s.  This spot also yielded a singing Spotted Towhee which was an eBird write-in.

As the trail continued to climb uphill there was more brush and less conifers, and the few conifers that were there were much shorter.  Here I started to pick up singing Fox Sparrows along with the continuing Juncos, Chippies, White-crowns, and Wilson’s Warblers.  And after a mostly uphill 4 km hike, I decided to head back down to Lake Louise.  Along the way the cloud deck had risen affording better scenery views with Lake Louise in the background.

And as I stopped to take this picture of Lake Louise and the chateau in the distance, I heard a few snippets of song from an Empidonax.

It took a while to confirm, but it was my only Pacific-Slope Flycatcher of the trip, coming from these conifers at the base of a very high cliff.

Next I was off to Moraine Lake, with a key target being Clark’s Nutcrackers reported there recently.  But when I arrived the place was mobbed with tourists so I wondered if any birds at all might be around.  I finally found a parking spot, and noticed a small housing area at the edge of the parking lot – perhaps a likely spot to find the target “camp robbers”.  Within a couple minutes I heard jays calling from conifers among the houses.  I noticed some movement in one of the trees but could only get glimpses of the bird and couldn’t confirm it was a Nutcracker despite quite a bit of effort.  When I took down my binocs there was a Nutcracker on the ground just a couple feet away.  I should have just waited for a tame bird to come look for handouts. 

For a while I thought about taking a hike around Moraine Lake, but there were just too many people milling about.  At least I had time to take these couple scenery shots around the lake.

Next I was off to try several stops south of Canmore along the Smith-Dorrien Trail.  The first stop was at Grassi Lake where Common Loons had been recently reported.  It took a while to find the right spot, but I finally found the lake and quickly found an adult Loon swimming there.  I then made a couple more stops to the south but birding was pretty slow.  Just after I returned to the car at one spot I noticed this pair of bears a short distance away – glad I came back to the car when I did.

A later stop at Spray Lake yielded an adult Bald Eagle likely nesting nearby.  Otherwise birding was slow, though it was kind of fun to make an exact count of 17 Tennessee Warblers singing within earshot of the road along the way.  So I called it quits for the day a bit early to spend some time prepping for the upcoming BC portion of my trip.

AB Summary

I ended the AB half of my trip with 172 species in 2 full days and 3 partial days of birding – certainly much better than my hoped for 150 species.  My Fitbit says I walked 33.6 miles during this time.  And although I certainly didn’t see all of my targets, I was very happy with the sheer number of species and the rarities that I found along the way.  Not to mention hitting the key milestones of #1,000 Ticks in Canada and #14,000 Total Ticks.  Plus of course this can be a good starting point for developing a more extensive AB list if I make it back to the province in the future.

My next post will summarize the BC portion of my trip.

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