Evening Photography

I went for a drive one evening at the end of April with the intent of photographing the nearby one-room school house in the beautiful evening light, but I saw some good birds as well.

There were lots of Snow Geese, Canada Geese, and Northern Pintails feeding in our field and in the neighbours’; Northern Shovelers, Buffleheads, American Avocets, Lesser Yellowlegs, Tree Swallows, Snow Buntings, and a Red-tailed Hawk were also around.

A pair of Buffleheads,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/500, ISO 160, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

Northern Shovelers,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/400, ISO 160, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

Driving down one of the back roads, there was a big raptor sitting on a fence post, and it was a Peregrine Falcon! I took a few photos before it flew off. This is the second Peregrine I’ve seen in the area. The last and first one I saw was in September last year.

The Peregrine Falcon — such a stately bird,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/400, ISO 160, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/400, ISO 160, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

A view of the school from distance,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 100, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

I switched my 200-500 mm lens to the 50mm lens to better photograph the school. A Great Horned Owl was sitting in the back window of the school, and because of the lens switch, I didn’t get very good photos.

The departing Great Horned Owl,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f1.4D, 1/400, ISO 160, Nikkor 50mm, natural light

The quaint Chatsworth School,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f1.4D, 1/500, ISO 125, Nikkor 50mm, natural light

Two Rock Pigeons then flew out the windows, and that pretty much concluded the birding for the evening.

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Nikon D610, handheld, f1.4D, 1/1,000, ISO 320, Nikkor 50mm, natural light

Spring Migrants around Vermilion

My spring has been very busy, but I’ve been able to do quite a bit of birding these past few months, if not so much blogging.

Here are some of my favourite photos I’ve taken this spring.

An American Robin,IMG_8488

An American Avocet with a Lesser Yellowlegs in the background,IMG_8502

There are an abundance of Tree Swallows around our yard — we put up 20 more bird boxes around our property so hopefully all the boxes will have occupants this summer.IMG_8513

A Lincoln’s Sparrow at my feeding station,IMG_8536

A Lesser Yellowlegs,IMG_8552

A pair of Northern Shovelers,IMG_8474

Spring Arrival Dates for Alberta Birds

Spring is approaching and birds are preparing to fly north to their nesting grounds, so it’s time to start thinking about when spring migrants will arrive.

I recently asked a question on the Alberta Birds Facebook group about possible blog ideas — Delores and Karen each suggested a post of what species to expect in the spring, and the general arrival dates of migrating birds in Alberta. With that suggestion, I’ve created a list of spring arrival dates (March through May according to eBird) for species that migrate though and breed in the province of Alberta. I used the eBird frequency graphs for my arrival dates data.

In this list, I didn’t include species that are rare in Alberta during spring migration, resident or irruptive species, and species that are more frequently encountered during the winter months.

I also didn’t include species such as Killdeer, American Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds, American Goldfinches, and some species of waterfowl, since these species overwinter in parts of Alberta — mainly Calgary and Edmonton — and it’s too hard to average out their arrival date. If you’re interested in finding out when these species will arrive in your area — click here.

Please keep in mind that Alberta is a vast province with a variety of habitats and species arrival dates will vary based on your location in the province. The arrival date will be earlier in Calgary but later in my home area (seven hours north of Calgary). For example, the first arrival date for Barn Swallows in Calgary is April 15th, while it’s April 22th in my area.

A male Ruby-throated Hummingbird,

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A Barn Swallow in our yard from June 2011,

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Here are the average arrival dates for some of the more common Alberta species. If you think of a species that’s missing from the list, please let me know and I’ll add it to this list.

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First arrival date: March 1st

Ruddy Duck, Ring-billed Gull, Canvasback, American Coot, and Snow Goose.

First arrival date: March 8th

Mountain Bluebird, White-crowned Sparrow, Great Blue Heron, Purple Finch, Rusty Blackbird, Franklin’s Gull, Hooded Merganser, Brewer’s Blackbird, Ferruginous Hawk, Wood Duck, and Ring-necked Duck.

First arrival date: March 15th

Red-tailed Hawk, Chipping Sparrow, Double-crested Cormorant, Tree Swallow, Northern Shoveler, Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Say’s Phoebe, and Greater White-fronted Goose.

First arrival date: March 22nd

Swainson’s Hawk, Common Loon, Ruddy Duck, American White Pelican, American Avocet, Sandhill Crane, Red-necked Grebe, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Western Grebe, Thayer’s Gull, Fox Sparrow, Black-necked Stilt, and Greater Yellowlegs.

First arrival date: April 1st

Osprey, Turkey Vulture, Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe, Savannah Sparrow, Eastern Phoebe, Clay-coloured Sparrow, McCrown’s Longspur, Bonaparte’s Gull, Spotted Sandpiper, Cassin’s Finch, Violet-green Swallow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Marsh Wren, Chestnut-collared Longspur, and Solitary Sandpiper.

First arrival date: April 8th

Wilson’s Snipe, Black-crowned Night Heron, Red-naped Sapsucker, American Bittern, Yellow-headed Blackbird, American Pipit, White-winged Scoter, Spotted Towhee, and Lesser Yellowlegs.

First arrival date: April 15th

Loggerhead Shrike, Vesper Sparrow, Barn Swallow, Common Yellowthroat, Willet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Rough-winged Swallow, Marbled Godwit, Hermit Thrush, White-faced Ibis, Sprague’s Pipit, and Semipalmated Plover.

First arrival date: April 22nd

House Wren, Purple Martin, Wilson’s Phalarope, Grasshopper Sparrow, Common Tern, Cliff Swallow, Pectoral Sandpiper, Swainson’s Thrush, Eastern Kingbird, Nelson’s Sparrow, Sora, Le Conte’s Sparrow, Brown-headed Cowbird, Nashville Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Bank Swallow, and Upland Sandpiper.

First arrival date: May 1st

Tennesse Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, Least Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Yellow Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Townsend’s Warbler, Baird’s Sparrow, Palm Warbler, Lark Sparrow, Western Tanager, Brown Thrasher, Black-and-white Warbler, Rufous Hummingbird, Rock Wren, Black-throated Green Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Piping Plover, Brewer’s Sparrow, Philadelphia Vireo, Northern Waterthrush, Ovenbird, Winter Wren, and American Golden Plover.

First arrival date: May 8th

Red-eyed Vireo, Black Tern, Calliope Hummingbird, Veery, American Redstart, Blue-headed Vireo, Western Kingbird, Cassin’s Vireo, Black-bellied Plover, Lazuli Bunting, Canada Warbler, Golden-crowned Sparrow, and Whooping Crane.

First arrival date: May 15th

Grey Catbird, Magnolia Warbler, MacGillvray’s Warbler, Black-headed Grosbeak, Bay-breasted Warbler, Lark Bunting, Bullock’s Oriole, Mourning Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Connecticut Warbler, and Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

First arrival date: May 22nd

Common Nighthawk, Sedge Wren, and Great Crested Flycatcher.

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You can look up your own arrival dates on eBird, here.

A male and female Northern Shoveler in early April 2014,

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Feathers on Friday

If you would like to join me for my Feathers on Friday meme, please put the link to your blog post in the comments and I’ll add the link to my post.

This male and a female Northern Shoveler were feeding at the slough across the road from my house yesterday,

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More Feathers on Friday Posts:

:: From Josiah at Birds in Your Backyard: Feathers on Friday

Flowers, Birds, and Eggs

At 5 am this morning I went out birding, I didn’t intend to, but I have a tooth that is bothering me so I couldn’t sleep. It was a beautiful morning and a lot of great birds!

Northern Shoveler (digiscoped),

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Wild Rose,

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On my walk I saw seven broken duck eggs floating in the water, here are three,

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Blue-winged Teal (digiscoped),

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Savannah Sparrow (digiscoped),

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Eared Grebes (digiscoped),

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Yellow Lady’s Slippers,

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My Baillie Birdathon Results 2013

I started my Baillie Birdathon at 5 am Thursday morning and continued through Friday.

I exceeded both of my goals, which were to raise $500 and to see 80 species. As of this writing, I’ve raised $2,215 and saw 84 species! The first species I saw was a Tree Swallow and the last was a Ring-necked Duck.

I counted birds around our house and farm, the neighbors’ pasture across the road, my grandparents’ yard, the local Provincial Park, and a friend’s yard.

Thank you to everyone who supported my birdathon with donations and encouragement! Special thank yous to David, Ted, Paul, and Mr. C!

All the species I saw:

Common Loon, Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe, Eared Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Canada Goose, American Wigeon, Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Northern Harrier, Swainson’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Ruffed Grouse*, Gray Partridge, Sora, American Coot, Killdeer, Willet, Marbled Godwit*, Wilson’s Snipe, Wilson’s Phalarope, Franklin’s Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Bonapart’s Gull, Black Tern, Forster’s Tern, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove*, Great Horned Owl*, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Least Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Warbling Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Black-billed Magpie, American Crow, Common Raven, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, Bank Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, House Wren, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Sprague’s Pipit, Cedar Waxwing, European Starling, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Chipping Sparrow, Clay-colored Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, Purple Finch, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, and House Sparrow.

Some of the birds I saw during my Birdathon:

A Tree Swallow (digiscoped),

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A female Northern Shoveler (digiscoped),

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A Chipping Sparrow (digiscoped),

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A Bonaparte’s Gull on a dock (digiscoped),

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Two Forster’s Terns were there too (digiscoped),

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A Chipping Sparrow nest,

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Purple lilacs,

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A Common Loon (digiscoped),

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Cinnamon Teal (digiscoped),

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I had a wonderful time doing the Baillie Birdathon again and I can’t wait to see what next year will bring!

* indicates heard only

Wild Bird Wednesday: Northern Shovelers

Northern Shovelers were some of the first ducks to arrive this Spring and I’ve been able to take lots of digiscoped photos of them, so here is one of my better photos.

Today, I’m linking up with Stewart for his Wild Bird Wednesday. So, be sure to read through all the other bloggers’ posts with their wild birds.

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