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Birding around Calgary – Spring 2020 Photo Album

Hard to believe 6 months have passed since my last post. Guess I’ll put that down to a combination of the general craziness of 2020, plus the expected laziness of the summer! I thought it might be nice to publish a few photo albums from April to now, so this one covers early spring when the first migrant species began to return here in Calgary.

As always, many of the new arrivals are waterfowl, with greater and greater numbers showing up as the amount of available open/unfrozen water rises. Foremost among the early arrivals are the Common Goldeneyes (although some do over-winter as well), with the drakes intent on impressing any hen they can find with their entertaining backward head flips:

And sometimes they just go on with their routine even when no one else seems to be watching!

American Wigeons are also prevalent:

And at this time of year the males’ fabulous metallic green head plumage really stands out:

Diminutive Buffleheads are well-represented amongst the migrant waterfowl, and like most males ducks this time of year, they can be found racing up and down waterways searching for females:

However, for a keen photographer like myself, what stands out about these little ducks is the dramatic iridescent head plumage that seems to show off every colour of the rainbow when the light hits at the right angle:

And during several sunrise and sunset outings I was able to find some freshly-arrived Ring-necked Ducks:

As well as numerous Mallard drakes, this one performing his early morning preen:

Elegant grebes could be found regularly now and I was taken with this pair of ‘love bird’ Horned Grebes that had taken up residence on a small pond and clearly only had eyes for each other:

My first time witnessing the courtship dance of the Red-necked Grebe was definitely a personal highlight this year. Seeing a pair of these grebes calling to each other from the far side of small lake before paddling closer and closer to each other, calling all the time:

Before coming together:

And then cementing their bond with an impressive, out-of-the-water side-by-side ‘water dance’:

To produce a spring album and leave out the American Robin – locally considered to be the harbingers of this season – would be a serious omission, so here’s a few snaps of some robins I found along the Bow River.

Part of a flock of some 20 birds, these robins were patrolling the smooth-stoned shoreline plucking newly-hatched insects from the river’s surface:

Finally, during what were personally the darkest days of the emerging COVID pandemic, my spirits were uplifted no end by the sight of a couple dozen Mountain Bluebirds foraging at a local park.

The electric blue of their plumage, their soft sweet calls together with the warm sun and fresh air were ‘candy for the soul’ and just what I needed.

And judging by the delighted faces on dog-walkers, children and other park-goers who witnessed these bluebirds, I was not the only one feeling this way :).

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