Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 01/22/2016

Photo taken on January  3, 2016

See also...


winter scene
winter landscape
Anne Elliott
Nanton area
S of Calgary
SW quadrant of Count circle
Christmas Bird Count 2015
rural scene
rolling hills
3 January 2016

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A winter day in southern Alberta

A winter day in southern Alberta
Some years, the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count for the town of Nanton is held late in December. Other years, it ends up being held early January, sometimes delayed because of really bad weather. The Count that took place two days ago, on 3 January 2016, was part of the 2015 Bird Count.

As you can see, the weather was bright and sunny for us this day. What you can't see was that it was very cold for the first part of the day, then warming up to a more pleasant cold later on! I think it was -21C when we started. On the January 2014 trip for the 2013 Count, on the hour-long drive south of Calgary, we hit -34C (-29.2F)!!!!! Again, this year, there was no or very little wind, which makes all the difference. Also, the only walking we had to do was when we called in at various farms.

We drove through such beautiful scenery when we were covering the SW quadrant of the Christmas Bird Count circle that centered on the town of Nanton, Alberta. A landscape over which the occasional Golden Eagle soars (we saw 5!) and in which some years - but definitely not this day! - numerous Sharp-tailed Grouse wander on the ground or perch in trees. I absolutely love this area SW of Nanton! Some of these backroads are extremely steep and almost look vertical when seen from a distance. Some years, the whole area is white, covered in deep snow, so that you can't tell where the roadside ends and the ditch begins. This Count, it wasn't too bad, thank goodness, though I might have felt differently if I had been one of the two drivers for our group! This year, my small group had 5 people, in two cars.

I think the gorgeous Pine Grosbeaks were the highlight of the day for me. We had been told about a farm family who had lots of Grosbeaks at their feeders, and we are so glad that we called in. We also saw a Gray Jay there, to add to our species list. My small group of 4 friends and myself, travelling in two cars, did see 5 Golden Eagles, too, which was a real thrill, but they were way off in the distance and I couldn't get any close photos. Most of the time, the Grosbeaks were at the feeders, but, much as I prefer to not have feeder shots, I was still happy to get the chance to photograph these birds up close.

Around lunch time, we returned to the Truch family's place as we were very nearby, and ate our lunch in the warmth of their cosy home.

After driving (being driven, for me, which is always pure luxury) the backroads from about 8:00 a.m. till around 3:30 p.m., we returned to the wonderful home of the Truch family. Not only do Bill and Leah Truch and their son, Mike, always welcome everyone with open arms, they also provide a much-appreciated breakfast snack for us and then, at the end of the day, a delicious supper. Have to say that I love travelling these scenic backroads, but I also really enjoy getting together with everyone afterwards. This is one of my favourite Bird Counts, and perhaps the most favourite.

Just before leaving for Calgary at the end of the day, we were shown the family's Llamas, two Donkeys, Peacocks, and several tiny white Quail. I should have taken photos of these animals when it was daylight - but maybe I can do it next year.

Thanks so much for doing all the driving, Tony and Andrew, and thanks, Leah, Bill and Mike for all the effort and time you put into your warm welcome! It was another well-organized Count, Mike, as usual - thanks. Can't wait for next Christmas!