Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 01/07/2016

Photo taken on December 30, 2015

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Anne Elliott
Sitta carolinensis
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Sittidae
Genus: Sitta
SW of Millarville
Sheep River Christmas Bird Count 2015
30 December 2015
going down a tree trunk
SW of Calgary
White-breasted Nuthatch
typical pose

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A typical pose for the White-breasted Nuthatch

A typical pose for the White-breasted Nuthatch
On 30 December 2015, 7 of us took part in the annual Audubon Sheep River/Priddis/Turner Valley Christmas Bird Count. I know I also did this Count on 31 December 2007 and 30 December 2008, but I can't remember if those were the only times I had taken part previously.

As you can see from this photo, we did see some birds that day, even some that were close enough for photos. This White-breasted Nuthatch male was at someone's feeder at one of the acreages that we called in at. In fact, it was a great day : ) Great, but COLD, starting off at -22C warming to a balmy -3C later in the day.

"A common feeder bird with clean black, gray, and white markings, White-breasted Nuthatches are active, agile little birds with an appetite for insects and large, meaty seeds. They get their common name from their habit of jamming large nuts and acorns into tree bark, then whacking them with their sharp bill to “hatch” out the seed from the inside. White-breasted Nuthatches may be small but their voices are loud, and often their insistent nasal yammering will lead you right to them." From AllAboutBirds.

Our time was spent travelling by car, driving the backroads SW of the city and calling in at several farms. I wasn't sure just where this count would cover. This time, our area was in the centre of the count circle and I'm so glad I decided to go again. I hadn't expected that many of the roads would be familiar to me and a few were new.

Our day started and ended with a Moose, which was pretty amazing. Not the greatest views for photographs, but I did manage to get a couple of OK ones.

Another find was a group of Wild Turkeys that were at a location where they had been seen before. This time, we drove down the hill to the farm buildings and were able to see these spectacular birds quite well. All were females, but the females are still stunning, with their iridescent plumage.

A great stop was at Rod Handfield's place. Some of us used to go there on botany trips and he always had the best mushrooms and other fungi growing in his forest. We hadn't been back there the last two or three years and I really missed our old botany outings. Rod and his wife have such a beautiful cabin there, and he invited us in for coffee and pastries. This was so much appreciated on a day of birding! Rod is always so delightfully hospitable!!

Thanks so much, Anne B, for driving two of us - without you, I would not have been able to go! Our time spent in a snow-filled ditch simply added to the adventurous feeling of the day, lol! Just shows how easy it is to get stuck when there is snow on the ground. The road had been snow-ploughed, but the edge looked like it was solid ground, not part of a ditch. Thankfully, a shovel was available and with the help of the rest of the group pushing from the front of the car, we made it back on to firm ground!

I will add our leader's final species list for the day:

SHEEP RIVER CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT, 0850-1500, Tue,30Dec2015. Centre of Circle, SW of Millarville,AB. Clear, sunny, calm, -22 to -03°C. 30 cm snow on ground. Most waterbodies frozen over.

Total Party kms by Car - 80; Total Party kms by foot – 1km.
Total Party hours by Car – 3; Total Party hours by foot -2 hrs
Total Party hours feeder watching – 1:10 min.

Wild Turkey-9, all f.
Downy Woodpecker-6.
Hairy Woodpecker-4
Gray Jay-3
Blue Jay-6
Black-billed Magpie-14
Common Raven-33
Black-capped Chickadee- 118
Mountain Chickadee-32
Boreal Chickadee-4
Red-breasted Nuthatch-14
White-breasted Nuthatch-5
Dark-eyed Junco-2
Pine Grosbeak-22
White-winged Crossbill-36
Common Redpoll-14
Pine Siskin-1

vole sp.-1
Mule Deer-3
White-tailed Deer-7
Deer sp.-2

FMW51 has particularly liked this photo

What a great nuthatch capture! Thanks for sharing!
2 years ago.