This is the second post in my series of two posts about my Great Canadian Birdathon. In my last post, I mentioned the abundance of waterbirds that we saw. This post is all about the passerines. Find the first post here. To find out more about the Birdathon, listen to my radio interview here:
I woke up early on the Saturday, and toured the local hotspot near my house. Surprisingly, there was not too much new there, but it was still an enjoyable walk.
At 7:30, we stopped by at an Osprey nest to pick them up, and found not only the pair, but a Pileated Woodpecker in addition.
We found ourselves racing against the clock to get to the Banff Birdwalk in time. Screeching to a halt, we jumped out just in time to depart on the walk. The organiser, whose birding by ear is brilliant, was unfortunately not there, so the walk was perhaps slightly slower than we would have liked. The ponds were dried up, and the morning was cold and wet, but the birds were active. By nine, we had seen a few new species including a Western-wood Pewee displaying for us.
At 9:30 I was twitching, and by ten I gave up. “We have to leave the group. We’re not getting anything new, and by my count we need four species still to break 100.” My Dad agreed, and we slipped away from the group and continued, going at a rather faster pace towards a better birding place. On the way we found a Boreal Chickadee.
As we turned a corner, we ran into an off-shoot of the group that had had the same idea as us. “Did you see the Wilson’s Warblers?” they ask. “No.” A Wilson’s would be a new one for the day. Before we had the chance to find one, a thrush flew up onto a branch above us. Northern Waterthrush! And then the Wilson’s called. “That’s it” I crowed, “100 species!” How wrong I would turn out to be.
Nearing the very end of the count, first I, then my Dad ventured into the swampy undergrowth at the side of the marsh, pursuing what would turn out to be a Le Conte’s Sparrow. Out of nowhere, the sharp tic-tic-tic of avian feet walking along thick branch caught our attention. Simultaneously, we swung around just in time to see a Virginia Rail disappear into the bushes. This rarely seen bird is heard on most Christmas Bird Counts here, but to see it is pretty good going. Too bad we didn’t get a photo.
I glanced at my watch. Time was up. By my count, we had broken 100 species by exactly one. Boy was I wrong. In retrospect, going through photos and adding all the lists together, the count was 1 short of my biggest big day ever. We got 120 species. See the full list here: 2016 Great Canadian Birdathon Species List
Oh, and on the way home I got some decent photos of a Black Bear, so I thought that I would share them.
There is still plenty of time to donate! Please help me make this Birdathon even greater by supporting me here! Thank you very much to those who have done so already, your donation is greatly appreciated!