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!

The Birds of Bourron-Marlotte, France

I went birding a few times around Bourron-Marlotte (population 3,000) along rue Renoult, where we stayed at a friend’s house; it’s about 90 minutes by car south of Paris. The neighbourhood is very good for birding since it borders the Forest of Fontainebleau, and many yards are well landscaped with mature trees and thick bushes.

A map of the area where we stayed,

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The three eBird lists for the birding walks I took on rue Renoult are here, here, and here. And here are some of my favourite photos from our stay:

It rained every time I went birding in Bourron-Marlotte, so many of my photos have water spots or smudges on them, and of course the sky is overcast,

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I saw two Crested Tits while in France. They’re very pretty little birds, but the ones I saw both stayed high up in the trees, so my photos don’t do them justice,

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In the forest, many fallen logs were covered in moss and fungi,

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Chaffinches were all over the forest floor looking for seeds,

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Down the road from our friend’s house is a thickly treed yard where I saw many good species. This bird is a Firecrest; it was very quick and difficult to see as it flitted about in the bushes,

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Woodpeckers were very common in the woods as there are many mature trees. This is a Great Spotted Woodpecker,

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Common Blackbirds are very common around the countryside in France. Although the species name is “blackbird”, this species is in the thrush family and closely related to the American Robin.

Adult blackbirds have an orange-yellow bill while first winter birds have an all-dark bill,

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Great Tits were one of the most common species I saw in the village,

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While Eurasian Nuthatches look very similar to the Red-brested Nuthatches here at home, they sound very different,

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Blue Tits get their name from the blue cap on their head,

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This woodpecker is a Middle Spotted Woodpecker, which is distinguished from the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker by the amount of white on the back,

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There are two species of treecreepers you can see in France. The one below is a Short-toed Treecreeper which can be identified by white spotting on the wing tips and a long bill, but the songs are probably the best way differentiate the two species.

A Short-toed Treecreeper scaling up a tree,

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Along with birds, I also saw some mammals in France including this Red Squirrel; other mammals I saw included Wild Boar, Red Fox, and lots Roe Deer,

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Stay tuned for more posts about birding in France and Germany!