Great Canadian Birdathon 2018

Our 2018 Great Canadian Birdathon was definetly an extrodinary one. We managed to see 127 species of birds and one lifer and 11 species of mammals.

Our 2018 Great Canadian Birdathon was definitely an extraordinary one. We managed to see 128 species of birds and one lifer and 11 species of mammals.

We left the house at 4:30 and managed to get to Horse Creek Road just after five where we added 32 species to our list. The next stop was the most anticipated location of the day, Winchell Lake. We sorted through the dawn chorus for about a half hour. Although, we didn’t get the number of species we hoped for most of them were new to our list and generally hard to find birds. We continued on our way to William J. Bangall Wilderness Area where we hoped to find a Lazuli Bunting a bird that has eluded me for years. When we arrived we the familiar call of the Black-capped Chickadee a new addition to our list. Many of the birds were the same as what was at Winchell but two species stood out, Pacific-slope Flycatcher which I had never seen in Alberta and Cassin’s Vireo somewhat of a rarity in the Calgary Area. As we walked in a bit further was added not many but a few species to our daily count one of them being Blue Jay a bird that I have not seen as much since I moved to Alberta. Our next species of the day was a Cape May Warbler a bird that we stumbled upon when we pulled over for a still unidentified Empidonax sp. We began the longish drive back to Calgary where we hoped to potentially add three species of hummingbirds and a few others to our list. While driving we saw some more species that we had not yet been listed American Kestrel, Franklin’s Gull and Lesser Scaup among others. We arrived at weaselhead with our list already at 75 species before nine we could not have hoped for better numbers. We walked fairly quickly to the known spot for Rufous Hummingbird and quickly saw it perched atop a dead tree. Walking to towards the bridge we heard the almost constant song of a Red-eyed Vireo, not a new bird but a very nice song. We quickly saw the Calliope and headed back towards the bridge where we dipped of the Eastern Phoebe on the way in. While walking he added a few birds including Merlin, Eastern Phoebe, and many Cliff Swallows.


Calliope Hummingbird — Weaselhead Natural Area

As our list was only a few species away from 100 we drove out Southeast of the city to some wetlands closer than Frank Lake that has been more productive for me. We stopped at the first slough where we saw many species of waterfowl and a few species of shorebirds. We continued back in a circle and decided it couldn’t hurt to check out the first slough again. It was even better the second time around with a Hudsonian Godwit close to the road and a Black Tern of a floating log.

We had reached the 100 mark by eleven and we continued down to Priddis for Plummers Road and Brown-Lowry Provincial Park. We made a quick stop at Brown Lowry where we added Pacific Wren and Townsend’s Solitare to our list. On our drive towards Bragg Creek, we were stopped by a construction team that was paving the road for a seemingly endless time. Whilst parked we added Sharp-shinned Hawk and Northern Harrier bringing Our total to 110 species. After Lunch in Bragg Creek, we drove to Elbow Falls in hopes of seeing the breeding American Dippers.

We saw them and we saw another Pacific-slope Flycatcher. We began probobly the longest drive of the day out to Banff where we stopped at Seebe Dam wich had absolutly no birds on it. We made another stop a Lac des Arce where we did manage to see a Common Loon. I was looking on ebird to see what the best locations were and saw a report of a Dusky Flycatcher at Grassy Lakes in Canmore. We drove up the winding mountain road where a Bighorn Sheep decided not to move from the middle of the road causing a small traffic jam. When we arrived at the parking lot we had four Dusky Flycaycher calling along the slope with a few Hammonds as well. On the way down the mountain a Grizzly Bear crossed the road ahead of us it was the best look both my dad and I have had.

We drove into Banff and to the Cave & Basin Marsh where we saw a few new species such as Townsend’s Warbler, Virginia Rail, Willow Flycatcher and Dark-eyed Junco. At this point, we were very tired and we began the long drive back to Calgary. We saw a few more species along the highway including a surprise Rough-legged Hawk and Turkey Vultures as well as a Ring-necked Duck. We made it home and heard a Chipping Sparrow and House Finch two birds that were new for the day.

In total, we spent 16 hours in the field saw 128 species of birds and 11 species of mammals. You can view the taxonomic PDF list here. Birdathon List 2018


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