Sunday, July 24, 2011

Birding Banff National Park

Banff National Park could be one of the most beautiful places on earth. It was ridiculous! Its a friggen' UNESCO World Heritage Site for goodness sake. But this is a huge park, and I simply focus on 3-4 spots within the park.

Lake Louise
Morain Lake
Bow River Trail
The town of Banff

Birding in Lake Louise
Lake Louise is pretty incredible. We spent two days in the park so the birding is thin. I only saw and heard the most obvious species that were around in mid-July.  There are several trails around the lake, and basically, I saw Clark's Nutcrackers, White Crowned Sparrows, Boreal & Mountain Chickadees and of course, Robins. Boreal Chickadee's are common in Banff National Park, but not easily seen. They are much shier than Black Capped Chickadee's and in my experience, stayed very high in the tree's even when investigating pishing sounds. I walked Lake Louise at 6am one morning and heard abundant Varied Thrushes (even though I heard the call, I hesitate to count it as a lifer), but was unable to visually spot one. I also saw Audubons' Yellow Rumped Warblers. I also heard the buzzing sound of Northern Parulas... but I may be mistaken on that one. Does Audubon's Yellow Rumped Warbler count as a species? (probably not)!

Waiting for a handout? I took this with a 17-55mm lens.
Wow! After birding the Okanagan Valley Area, lifers did not come so easily. Boreal Chickadee in my opinion was a huge life list addition. This is my third Chickadee Species in a week. All I need is a single Black Capped Chickadee to achieve the coveted "Chickadee Grandslam"... that is, four chickadee species in a close time proximity.

Photo taken while eating apples... hence the unsavory expression.
Birding Bow River Trail
Bow River Trail was a really nice meandering river with lots of small islands and crystal clear blue water. Signs around this path had promises of Harliquin Ducks, American Dippers, Grey Jays and Clark's Nutcrackers. None of the above were seen. A kayaker told me that the ducks are harder to see as you get into mid-summer. Still, Audubon's Yellow Rumped Warbler was seen, along with beautiful riverside flowers similar to those seen in Mt. Revelstoke. In particular, Indian Paintbrush was noted.
One trip objective was to dip our feet in the Bow River. Mission Accomplished!

Indian Paintbrush Wildflower
Birding in the town of Banff
The first bird I saw in the town of Banff is a Hairy Woodpecker pecking on a telephone pole. The town has the typical  city dwelling birds, but Black billed Magpie may have been one of the more interesting. There is a trail in the middle of the town (edge really) called Fenlan Trail. I walked this at 6am one morning and really enjoyed the beauty of the local geography and avifauna. Birds seen include:
Mountain Chickadee, Robin, Swainson's Thrush, Pine Siskin, Audubon's Warbler, Crows, Red breasted Nuthatch, unknown hummingbirds (Calliope most likely). Bald Eagle, and obligatory Belted Kingfishers were seen as well but more towards Vermillion Lakes area.

Another trail I attempted to see was the Marsh Trail Loop on the town's edge. I got lost and never really found the trailhead, but a grassy field revealed many sparrows types. I believe they were Savanah Sparrows and Lincoln's Sparrows. Swallows were abundant in this area as well. I was also scolded by a Wren at this trail.

Birding Morain Lake

Morain Lake is even more beautiful than Lake Louise. The scene in the photo above was featured on the back of an older series of $20 bills (Valley of the 10 peaks). The lakes in Banff National Park are small, glacial water lakes with a fine suspension of rock-flour which is responsible for the beautiful blue colour of the water.  Clark's Nutcrackers were around as well as White Crowned Sparrows, but I did not really bird this park. I did however see a family of 3 Grizzly Bears that were eating vegetation near the roadway near the parking lot. Large crowds gathered. A stop at a valley meadow produced a Northern Checkerspot Butterfly.


Good birding!

Lifer Summary:

273-Boreal Chickadee
274-Clark's Nutcracker
275-Audubon's Yellow Rumped Warbler (may not count as an official species!)

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...