Tuesday, June 26, 2018

June 1-14 2018, Birds seen at Southern Alberta, Pakowki Lake, Writing-on-stone Park, Kettle River Campground, British Columbia

This blog is comprised of a collection of photos taken at various locations in southern British Columbia and Alberta between June 1 and June14, 2018.  
We made a stop at Kettle River campground for a few nights.  The object of our visit was to find a Black-backed Woodpecker.  A pair of Lewis's Woodpeckers first grabbed our attention.

A Black-backed Woodpecker is not rare but after 25 years of birding we had never seen one.  There were reports of one at Kettle River.  It took a few hours but we finally found it, making it number 400 on our British Columbia list.

One of the first stops on this trip was in Princeton, B.C.. We joined the BC Field Ornithologists here for a birding tour.  One of the highlights was this Lazuli Bunting.

This tour also provided a very cooperative female Violet-green Swallow.

We stopped at Writing-on-stone provincial park on our way back to B.C.  This little park is tucked away on the Montana border but always popular with local residents and tourists alike.
Two of the reasons for the popularity are the hoodoos and petroglyphs.  Formed by erosion, these interesting hoodoos can be explored by trails leading through them. 
The  Milk River winds its way through the valley.  The campsite is nestled in the grove of large trees at the top of the picture.
A bust of Trump or some other ancient inhabitant??

Rock Wrens were common amongst the hoodoos.
I have a feeling this Western Cottontail had seen many hikers pass by him before us.
Black-billed Magpie at the campsite.
A Yellow Warbler gleans the willows.
It blends in with the yellow flowers of the willow.

Another stop on our trip was Foremost, Alberta.  This was the closest campground to Pakowki Lake which is well known for its bird diversity.
There were many Eared Grebes courting on Pakowki.
American Avocets were filtering out food.  
As were Black-necked Stilts.
White-faced Ibis almost seem like a sub-tropical bird but they appear to like Southern Alberta.
  • Wilson's Phalarope.  Unlike most birds where the female has the predominant role in caring for young, female phalaropes desert their mates once they’ve laid eggs. While the male raises the young by himself, the female looks for other males to mate with. This unusual mating system is called polyandry, and it’s reflected in the way the two sexes look, with the females more brightly colored than the males.
Male Phalarope.
We found this Ferruginous Hawk as we drove around the south side of Pakowki.  It was beside the road on the only tree in sight.
You can barely see a Richards Ground Squirrel (gopher) in the nest.  When bison still roamed the west, Ferruginous Hawk nests contained bison bones and hair along with sticks and twigs.
Finally a White-breasted Nuthatch from Wasa Campground, close to Cranbrook.

End of this blog.  
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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Badger, Grasslands Nat. Park Saskatchewan, June 10 2018

Grasslands National Park has always been one of our favourite places to visit.  This was our third visit over 20 years.  The wide open spaces, Buffalo, Rattlesnakes, Prairie Dog towns, Sharp-tailed Grouse and other birds form a source of attraction for us.
The Park is on the southern border; adjacent to Montana.  There are 2 blocs; east and west.  This was the first time we visited both blocs.  The west bloc is mostly rolling prairie grass hills while the east bloc resembles badlands.
In the west bloc we camped at Frenchman Creek Campsite.  There were 6 RV's here and 3 of them were popular Escape trailers-made in Chilliwack.  Ours is on the right.
We were driving through a Prairie Dog town one evening when I noticed a geyser of dirt been thrown up from a dog hole.  We pulled over and this badger popped out.  It went back down the hole and continued digging.  Every time it backed out I took a picture.  

Out of the corner of my eye I saw another badger approaching.  Look at the claws.
It was running towards the hole where the other badger had appeared.
When it got to hole where the other badger had been digging, it stopped and peered in.
Then it ran to another hole.
This was the last shot of it before we returned to the original hole thinking we would wait until the badger that went down there would eventually emerge.  We waited about 15 minutes before we realized it wasn't coming out and the original badger must have travelled underground and came out of another hole undetected by us; then returned to its original hole to see if it had scared a Prairie Dog out.  
We were not sure if this Black Tern was feeding a young one or performing a mating ritual as they both looked like adults.
Years ago when we first visited the park, there were no Buffalo. 71 were introduced in 2006 after being absent for 120 years.  Now there are over 300. Having reached the park capacity, some will be harvested and the meat sold.

Bobolinks are common here.  
This Brown Thrasher was in the East bloc.  The east bloc is 170 kilometres and 2 hours from the west bloc.
A Wilson's Snipe taking a break from winnowing.

Eastern Kingbird in east bloc.

This family of gophers was at our campsite.  It was nice to sit back in a camp chair with a beer and watch them.  I didn't miss TV.
Grey Partridge at the east bloc.  They seemed to be common here but not easy to get a picture of.  When I was kid growing up in Northern Alberta they were called Hungarian Partridge because they were introduced from Europe.
Horned Larks were common in both blocs.  Horned Larks vary in color across North America. Some arctic-breeding birds have little or no yellow on the head, while Eastern and south Texas breeders have the head extensively yellow.
I am always fascinated by the appearance of shorebirds, like this Long-billed Curlew, in the prairies. 
Marbeled Godwits are another shorebird that breeds on the prairies.

 While walking around the campsite in the east bloc this male Northern Harrier kept circling me.  There must have been a nest nearby.
A Black-tailed Prairie Dog. 
If one gets out before sunrise one can sometimes get photo ops with Sharp-tailed Grouse.  

These Grouse where in the same location when we visited about 15 years ago.
Common Nighthawks are common.  They like to perch on rail fences and are quite approachable.
Another sandpiper type bird.  This one is an Upland Sandpiper.
We took long hike in the east bloc.  Hiking is the only way to explore this section as there is no road through it.  We spotted about 25 grouse.  We were hoping they may be Sage Grouse which are becoming rare in Canada.  There were only about 100 birds in 2012.  However they were very spooky and the best shot we got was not conclusive.  
Can you spot the 2 heads sticking up?

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