Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 03/22/2016

Photo taken on March 19, 2016

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Anne Elliott
Trumpeter Swan
Cygnus buccinator
SE of Calgary
Frank Lake
Family: Anatidae
19 March 2016
day before spring

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The return of the Swans

The return of the Swans
On 19 March 2016, I was on a birding day trip with a group of friends, going SE of Calgary, E of High River. Though the day started off rather cold, it gradually warmed up and was a beautiful day to be out in nature. On a trip l ike this, birds are almost always way off in the distance, so I get very few photos. Did get this fully 48x zoom shot of a few of the beautiful Swans in the area that day. We saw both Tundra and Trumpeter Swans - I think the ones in this photo are Trumpeters. A lovely sign of spring on the day before the official date of spring's arrival.

I will add our leader's report that he sent into eBird, adding that I did not see all of the sightings, as the birds were much too far away. As always, my camera lens was turned to various other things, too. Thanks so much, as always, Andrew, for a most enjoyable day! Thanks, too, Anne, for driving - I really appreciated the ride!

"We had 16 participants when we left Calgary on a sunny but frosty morning.

We arrived at the main gate around 10:00 am and set off, in a chilly -5 deg C to walk down to the outfall and then around to the blind. The recent cold nights had refrozen some of the lake, but it is still mostly open water.

Most obvious were the thousands of Pintails and hundreds of swans (mostly Tundra today). We did see the overwintering (presumably) Song Sparrow near the outfall. About 60-80 California Gulls, no other gulls that we could identify.

We left and went to High River for lunch, stopping by the Sutherland Shelterbelt to acknowledge the resident Great Horned Owl.

After lunch we circled the lake on the usual roads and ended up at the Basin 2 West Bay. Several more swans and finally, the Eurasian Wigeon, spotted by Tony Timmons. By lunchtime the temperature had reached about 10 deg C and continued to rise reaching ~14 deg C and making a perfect Alberta Spring (almost) afternoon.

Leaving Frank Lake we stopped in at Blackie to find mostly Starlings, and a few Eurasian Collared Doves.

The list for Frank Lake and Blackie was:

Checklists included in this summary:
(1): Frank Lake--NW lookout/blind
Date: Mar 19, 2016, 9:55 AM
(2): Sutherland's Shelterbelt (private property)
Date: Mar 19, 2016, 12:30 PM
(3): Frank Lake--Basin 2 (Southeast Corner)
Date: Mar 19, 2016, 2:15 PM
(4): Frank Lake--Basin 2 (West Bay)
Date: Mar 19, 2016, 3:05 PM
(5): Blackie (hamlet)
Date: Mar 19, 2016, 4:10 PM

650 Canada Goose -- (1),(3),(4)
4 Trumpeter Swan -- (1)
225 Tundra Swan -- (1),(4)
3 Gadwall -- (1)
2 Eurasian Wigeon -- (4)
60 American Wigeon -- (1),(4)
160 Mallard -- (1),(3),(4)
2 Northern Shoveler -- (4)
4550 Northern Pintail -- (1),(3),(4)
24 Canvasback -- (1),(4)
76 Redhead -- (1),(4)
5 Lesser Scaup -- (4)
150 Common Goldeneye -- (1),(4)
2 Gray Partridge -- (2)
1 Northern Harrier -- (4)
2 Bald Eagle -- (1),(3)
5 Killdeer -- (1),(2)
80 California Gull -- (1)
6 Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) -- (3),(5)
4 Eurasian Collared-Dove -- (5)
2 Great Horned Owl -- (2)
1 Merlin -- (5)
5 Black-billed Magpie -- (1),(2)
1 Common Raven -- (3)
3 Horned Lark -- (1)
51 European Starling -- (2),(5)
2 American Tree Sparrow -- (1)
1 Song Sparrow -- (1)
8 House Finch -- (5)
20 House Sparrow -- (2),(5)

From Blackie we stopped by Third Lake on the way back to Calgary. A huge number of birds there, somewhere between 4000 and 8000, generally somewhat distant. Mostly Pintails, but we also saw American Wigeon, Mallard, a few Canada Geese, and California Gulls.

Clearly Pintails are on the move right now."

Andrew Hart