Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Canada part 3: mainly birds

One thing that was surprising was that we didn't have a great bird list by the end of the holiday. We saw some nice birds, and some good birds very close up and in large numbers, but not great variety. This may be partly because we dint really go any dedicated birds finding trips and didn't really meet any other birder to point us in any directions. Also, the rest was so good we probably dint bother too much about chasing lbj's in bushes!! Still, there were some nice birds.
We started off with bluebirds on our first day, with a family group pottering about in a lovely meadow just off the main road.

On Lake Minnewanka we hired a boat for a very pleasant couple of hours and cam across a lovely pair of grey phalaropes pottering about on the surface of the incredibly blue lake.
 In the same place we also saw mergansers, which we saw in many places

and our first sighting if bald eagles, which were incredibly numerous throughout our holiday.


This one in particular was quite confiding and after sitting in its tree for a few minutes it dived down into the lake and caught a fish.
Unfortunately with a bouncing boat we only caught the fish in its foot as it moved off!!!


and then it swooping off again down the lake.

One of things I always find when going abroad is identifying some of the commoner birds, like sparrows. This white-crowned sparrow though was pretty easy to id, with its bold head pattern.

Near Banff was a lovely little area called Vermillion Lakes. With easy car parking next to the lakes, you didn't need to worry about bears and could see a wide variety of birds quite close up.
This sora rail was much easier to see than our water rail.

Lesser yellowlegs occur as uncommon vagrants in the UK, but you rarely get this good views of them.

Ospreys were another large raptor we saw a lot of throughout our trip, and this one seemed quite curious about the idiot with the camera under its tree.



We then moved off to a lovely area, Moraine Lake, which was a high mountainous area with some lovely birds such as harlequin ducks (in eclipse plumage unfortunately) and American dipper, a drabber version go our birds.


As we then moved to Jasper we saw more of the classic lakeland species, such as loons, or great northern divers in our terms,



asa well as pleasing numbers of some of the smaller birds such as dark-eyed juncos

yellow-dumped warblers, which were numerous throughout,


and white crowned sparrows.

Up in the mountains though we had good views of the ever present ravens


as well as ptarmigan




and spruce grouse.


Finally, when we moved back to the coast and the great bear rainforest we were back in the world of bald eagles





as well as this very smart belted kingfisher


a very late rufous hummingbird


more juvenile eagles following the bears and the salmon along the river,



and on the river some comical spotted sandpipers.