A BIRDING BLOG -
hong kong AND
hong kong AND
Think I'll go out to Alberta... Ian Tyson
My wife and I went to Alberta. We flew from Hong Kong to Calgary via Vancouver on 18th July. On the 19th, we picked up a hire car and drove through flat pasture land to the town of Red Deer, 137 kilometres to the north.
Although it was mid-July, the temperature was around 9 degrees Celsius and there was driving rain. Just outside of Red Deer we stopped in a small muddy car park beside Slack Slough – a well-known wetland area. Unfortunately, because of the awful weather we did not get out of the car. There were no views over the water and what birds there were were difficult to get to grips with. However, three Wilson’s Snipes flew overhead and a Wilson’s Phalarope landed briefly next to the pool of water in the muddy parking area.
The following day dawned more brightly and we spent most of the day around Gaetz Lakes, a bird sanctuary close to the centre of town, and the adjacent McKenzie Park. I also went back to the lakes on the early morning of the 21st before we continued our journey. The bird sanctuary is based around two lakes; there are trails through pine forest and grassland, and bird feeders outside the Kerry Wood Nature Centre allow for good views of a variety of species. The area provided a good introduction to a number of North American birds, although I struggled with some of the sparrows!
There were not too many waterfowl on the lakes, although there were more ducks than at first appeared and I saw Common Goldeneye, Mallard, Common Merganser, Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Green-winged Teal, Blue-winged Teal and Ruddy Duck, a number of these with chicks. They were not always easy to identify, however, as drakes at this time of the year are in eclipse plumage. Canada Geese and Red-necked Grebes were also present on the lake, and flyovers included three Great Blue Herons, 24 American White Pelicans and 46 Franklin’s Gulls. A pair of Common Loons was on the small lake at McKenzie Park.
Other birds in the surrounding area included Eastern Phoebe, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Wren, American Robin, Cedar Waxwing, House Finch, American Goldfinch, Yellow Warbler, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, and Brown-headed Cowbird. As for the sparrows, which are closely related to Old World buntings, with the aid of the photographs I took and with reference to recent editions of two field guides – The Sibley Guide to Birds and The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Western Region – I worked out I saw Chipping, Clay-colored, Savannah, Lincoln’s and White-throated Sparrows in the area, although I have the suspicion that I also saw one or two other species that passed under my radar.