Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 06/23/2014

Photo taken on June 22, 2014

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Lark Sparrow
Chondestes grammacus
Dinosaur Provincial Park
E of Calgary
fairly large Sparrow
rounded tail with white corners

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Distant Lark Sparrow

Distant Lark Sparrow
This little Lark Sparrow was so far away, but I wanted to post this 48x zoomed and cropped image to my Birds of Alberta 9 album, as I had never seen a Lark Sparrow before. This was one of two new bird species that I was lucky enough to see yesterday, on a long day trip with friends to Dinosaur Provincial Park. I had only ever once been there before, that I can remember, and it must have been 30+ years ago, so yesterday's bus trip was an absolute treat.

46 people went on this annual outing and when we arrived, we split into two groups. One half went on a mini bus tour in the morning to an area of the park that is kept closed to people in order to protect the landscape. The other half took this tour in the afternoon. The rest of the day, we could go on a walk along one of the trails in the park that are open to the public.

I was in the group that walked in the morning. We went on the Cottonwoods Trail, that eventually led to the river - a long walk that was much further than I expected! We saw very few birds, the main one being a Yellow Warbler that had its beak full of soft, white "down" from a Cottonwood tree. When we were almost back at the starting point, a Nighthawk was spotted lying on a very high branch. Well done, Shirley, for spotting this bird (and the Lark Sparrow) that was very difficult to see! A real thrill for me, as I had always wanted to see a perched Nighthawk! I saw three of them flying over the Bow River and over our heads in Bow Valley Provincial Park just a few years ago, but no chance for a photo. While back at the parking lot, we had a few minutes to "explore" and I was so happy to spot this little Scarlet Mallow plant just a few feet away. We had great weather, which was very lucky, as we had had rain for quite a few days before. When wet, the Bentonite clay becomes treacherously slippery, so we did not have to experience that, though in a few places we could feel our feet slipping.

Our mini bus tour in one of the Park's buses in the afternoon took us through some spectacular scenery. Will be posting a few different views in the next little while.

I got back home around 6:30 p.m., barely able to move an inch, but it was definitely worth it. Thanks so much, Lynn, for organizing such an enjoyable trip to this fascinating area! A lot of work goes into organizing an event like this and it was much appreciated! Thanks, too, to friends Val and Wendy who took turns to sit with me for the long 2 1/2 hour journey out there and back! Great to catch up with both of you!

"A courting male Lark Sparrow crouches on the ground, holds his tail up at a 45 degree angle from the ground, spreads the tail feathers to show off the white tips, and then struts with its wings drooping so that the wingtips nearly touch the ground. When the female is receptive, the male gives her a small twig just before copulation." From AllAboutBirds.

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