Birding the Fenland Nature Trail

While I was birding the Bow Falls trail on our last day in Banff, I caught up with my parents and went back to our cabin for lunch. After drying my mittens and recharging my camera batteries we drove to the Fenland Nature Trail — the trail is a two-kilometre loop with the river running around it. 

I was dropped off at the north end of the trail on Vermilion Lakes Drive and walked down the path to the bridge that crosses the river. After not being able to find an American Dipper earlier in the day, I was determined to find one before we left. While I saw something fly over the water just as I got to the middle of the bridge, it wasn’t enough for me to ID it as a dipper.

Looking out over the bridge,IMG_0007

I continued down the path finding good numbers of Brown Creepers, Mountain Chickadees, White-winged Crossbills, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and a Belted Kingfisher perched on a snag along the river.

This nuthatch along with a second one was foraging underneath a spruce tree,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/320, ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/320, ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

A group of about 20 Elk were feeding just off the path,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/3,200, ISO 2500, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

This female has a radio collar for tracking her movements,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/1,600, ISO 1600, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/1,600, ISO 1600, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/1,600, ISO 1600, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/800, ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

Completing the two kilometre loop, I was going to try again to find the dipper when — success! An American Dipper was feeding on the far bank and then flew and landed on the close bank on a dead branch. It was fascinating to watch, but when a jogger ran by the bird flew off and I lost sight of it.

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/1,250, ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

Showing its white eyelid,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/1,250, ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

Back down the path was a male American Three-toed Woodpecker flaking off bark,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/400, ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/500, ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/500, ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

The Fenland Nature Trail is a great birding and mammal spot and the walking is very easy. Here’s my eBird checklist for the walk.

Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/500, ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/500, ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

Elk About Town

On our last full day in Banff I decided to go exploring instead of skiing. I left our cabin in the morning shortly after my parents headed out to take my brothers skiing at Lake Louise. Banff is a touristy, nature- and outdoor-centric town, so there are many trails and natural spots in the town. The public transit system — The Roam Bus — makes getting around very easy, and signs are posted everywhere, so it’s very difficult to get lost in and around Banff.

I walked a few blocks from the bus stop to the Bow Falls Trail which borders the Bow River on the south side of Banff. My target birds for the walk — and the trip — were Boreal Chickadees and an American Dipper. 

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Taken with my iPhone 6

I took this photo from the small pedestrian bridge looking west to the Rocky Mountains,

There were Mountain Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and White-winged Crossbills in the spruce trees. I also saw my lifer Boreal Chickadee in the flock, but all the birds were too hidden in the trees so I didn’t get any photos. I walked along the river’s edge, but it was absent of Dipper life. Here’s my eBird checklist from my walk. I did get some good shots of the mammals on the trails.

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/,200 ISO 1600, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

Just off the path was this big bull Elk. Elk are a very common sight in the town of Banff and throughout the National Park as well. These big ungulates are very habituated to people, but that doesn’t mean people should go near them. They are large wild animals and capable of a lot of damage. If you find yourself around Elk or any other mammals, please give them space.

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/,640 ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

The only camera other than my iPhone that I used on the Banff trip was my Nikon D610 with the 200-500mm lens. Because of the very cold weather at home and not having extra time, this was the first time I’ve been able to use the camera and lens for any appreciable amount of time, and I really enjoyed using both. The lens isn’t appropriate for landscape use because of its close focus, but it’s perfect for close-ups of animals.

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/1,600 ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

There was a second bull Elk on the trail, this one was was feeding and raking his antlers on the small spruce trees,

 

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/1,600 ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

The ice formations on the river were very interesting,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/1,600 ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

This photo was taken with my iPhone,IMG_0012

The American Red Squirrels were constantly scolding me, for what I don’t know. Occasionally one would pose long enough for a few photos,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/250 ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/250 ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/250 ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/250 ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/250 ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

Please stay tuned for the afternoon part of my last day in Banff!