Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 01/15/2016

Photo taken on December 15, 2015

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open water
Anne Elliott
reflection in water
late fall
SE of Calgary
E of High River
Frank Lake
like winter
SE quadrant of Count circle
annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count
Frank Lake and area
High River Christmas Bird Count
hoar frost
ice crystals
late autumn
15 December 2015

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Reflection through the fog

Reflection through the fog
At home, waiting to hear that my car has been repaired and is ready to be picked up. I'm also running out of time (about 3 hours left) to go and pick up and pay for a bus ticket for a day trip to the mountains next weekend. Not sure what happens with this group, but hopefully my name won't be removed from the list if I can't make it today. I did e-mail two people, but haven't heard back from either of them. Wasn't expecting my vehicle to need two days for repairs, but can't be helped - and brakes that need repair are nothing to mess around with! Just hoping I can get it back in time to go and pay for my ticket. This morning, it is lightly snowing and temperature is -10C (windchill -13C).

As for the above photo, this was taken at the start of a long day of birding, when 8 brave souls faced the elements in order to document the birds and other wildlife east of High River. After less than two hours' sleep (for me) and setting my alarm clocks for some unearthly hour, this was our reward.

Just like a year ago (2014), on the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count for High River, our Count on 15 December 2015 started off while it was still dark, and it was foggy with a most wonderful hoar frost. Not the best conditions for taking photos, though, especially with a point-and-shoot camera. Many of my photos taken very early morning came out far too blurry to keep. Everything was covered in delicate hoar frost. Or is this kind of frost called Rime Ice? There was no snow on the ground, but it was covered in similar crystals, which crunched as we walked on them.

On this day, I went with a group of 7 friends to take part in the first annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count of the season. This is one of my favourite counts, mainly because our small group covers one of my favourite areas, SE of the city. Other birders covered the rest of the large, 15-mile diameter count circle around the town of High River, just over half an hour's drive from the southern edge of Calgary. Our group was limited to just two carloads of people. When there is a convoy of vehicles, everything takes much longer, and on an important count day, time is of the essence.

We met in the city at 7:15 am and drove southwards into fog - dense fog! This is not what people hope for when out looking for birds, ha. The temperature was around -12C (so I'm guessing the windchill was somewhere around -18C or colder) when we set out, warming to 1C later on. I always hope for a hoar frost for this count. The sun came up when we were standing at this spot and for just a few brief seconds, it was reflected (not seen in this photo) in the open water. So beautiful.

After our very first stop here, we then drove the various backroads around and near Frank Lake, calling in at several farms to ask permission to look around their farmyards, hoping to find different species to add to our list. I will add our leader's final list below - not a great number of species, but a few nice ones, including two very, very distant Snowy Owls and 8 Great Horned Owls. It was great when those of us riding in the one car, saw our 9th Great Horned Owl along H'way 23, just E of Highway 2, on our way home.

"Frank Lake CBC, SE quadrant, S of Hwy 23, E of Hwy 2. 0800-1645, Tue, 15 Dec. 2015. Clear sky, but heavy ground fog obscured viewing of open water at Frank Lake, and coated vegetation with hoarfrost, which lasted most of the day. W. wind, up to 15kph. -12 to 01°C. No snow on ground (just hoarfrost), streams partly open.

Km by Car-110:, Km on foot; 3; Time by car – 7 hr; Time on foot -1:45 min.

Totals are all in IBA (in bird area), unless specified Off IBA. IBA territory was East of 152 St, S to 594 Av; then E to 168 St, then S to 626 Av.

Canada Goose-80
Gadwall-1 m
Green-winged Teal-1 f.
Lesser Scaup-1 m.
Bald Eagle-1 ad, flying S at 1445 over Davey Jones’ place..
Killdeer -3
Rock Pigeon-9 on N. side #23 // 30 on IBA terr. // 3 Off IBA
Great Horned Owl-8 (4 in Harley Sutherland’s yard).
Snowy Owl-2
Black-billed Magpie-17 // 31 Off IBA.
Common Raven-13 // 8 Off IBA
Horned Lark?? – 10, seen flying low, by Jim St. L
European Starling-1 on N side #23 // 26.
American Tree Sparrow- 12
Song Sparrow?? – 1 (seen three times near outfall, but in heavy fog).
Common Redpoll- 155 // 87 Off IBA
House Sparrow- 128 // 77 Off IBA

Reported seen by Mr/Mrs Gordon Fraser, Off IBA, in Little Bow River valley, today: Ring-necked Pheasant-1; Northern Flicker-1. (Also photographed Long-tailed Weasel-1).

Coyote- 1 on ice of Frank Lake
Deer sp.-3
Mule Deer -7, off S. Side of CBC Terr."

Of course, as always happens on any trip, I just had to take photos of anything else that caught my eye, including barns, scenery, and so on.

We had finished our count by around 4:45 pm, by which time it was completely dark. Some of us stayed for the delicious pot luck supper, mainly provided by generous birding people who live in or near High River. Thanks to everyone who got this ready for us - delicious and hugely appreciated!

A special thanks to Greg Wagner who always organizes this count. He is a truly dedicated birder, who puts in so much time year-round, searching for and recording what birds are being seen in that whole area.

Thanks, too, to Lorrie and John who drove two of us for the whole day. Can't thank you enough for making it possible for me to do this count. A lot of driving for you and it was greatly appreciated.

LINK TO HIGH RIVER BIRD COUNT 2014 album, for comparison:

I was lucky enough to get my name called in a draw when we were at the Potluck and was given a copy of Myrna Pearman's beautiful new book: "Backyard Bird Feeding: an Alberta Guide". This complete guide to year-round bird feeding in Alberta is beautifully laid out with so many great photos and masses of information. Definitely not just for people who have a garden and bird feeders. A delightful book! Thank you, Russ Amy, for donating this copy specially for the draw! I also bought a copy to give to friends when I next see them.

oddlittlebird, Luisa Leblanc, KevinJH have particularly liked this photo

That's a great shot, Anne ;-)
2 years ago.