After a week of scouting and some great help from local birders we were ready to do our big day on June 1. We had a great start near Cold Lake and the nighttime hours passed quickly. In addition to owls there are lots of birds to look for in the hours before dawn. Our very first stop produced Lincoln's Sparrow, Nelson's Sparrow, LeConte's Sparrow, Wilson's Snipe, Mallard, Yellow Rail, Clay-colored Sparrow, Great Horned Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl and Sora. Warblers such as Common Yellowthroat, Ovenbird and Connecticut regularly sing at night and we continued to pick up birds through the first hours of the day. By 4:00 am we had 50 species on our list and this grew to over 80 by sunrise. We had already driven over 240 km by this point. I won't go through the entire day but here are a few photos taken during the trip.
A display of Northern Lights near Cold Lake
|calling Virginia Rail|
|Cold Lake sunrise at 5 am|
At 6:00 am it was -1C and the list was up to 105 species.
scanning Cold Lake
|The northern part of the province was very dry this spring withbillowing dust from every passing vehicle.|
The south was very wet and many backroads were not passable unless you had a vehicle with good ground clearance.
Not something you want to encounter on a Big Day!
We reached 200 species at 4:57 pm with the foothills and mountains still to come.
Sofa Mountain. The wetland in the foreground is a good location for Fox Sparrow.
Another of the few photos taken during the big day was this Black Bear at Lower Waterton Lake.
Number 218 for the Big Day was a Golden Eagle on its nest in Waterton Lakes National Park. Here I am at the end of the Cameron Lake Road about 10:30 pm., at the end of 1,280 km of travel for the day. Visit Tom Hince's blog for other photos from the trip.