Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Spring birding

Here are a few thoughts from Jim on what's happening in the bird world right now:

This is the start of "shorebird season" -- look to sloughs and the muddy shores of shallow lakes for things like sandpipers and yellowlegs.

Snipe are winnowing -- that is, making their weird sound as they dive through the air (over and over and over and ...!) in their mating / territorial flights.

Goldfinches, the native sparrows and the birds that catch flying insects -- flycatchers, swallows, peewees, phoebes, kingbirds -- are here now too. We haven't seen many warblers yet, however.

Any waxwings you see these days are likely to be cedar waxwings: the Bohemians have, for the most part, migrated away until Thanksgiving.

And, it's time to put up your hummingbird feeders! Call the Nature Centre at 346-2010 for a recipe for do-it-yourself hummingbird nectar.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Seen in the Sanctuary

I had a chance to get out on the Dr. George Trail briefly this morning. It was fairly quiet out there -- or at least as far as human visitors go, it was quiet. Things are full-on spring noisy in the animal world. If you head out to one of the lake viewing decks you'll likely be treated to quite a show, between the Red-Winged Blackbirds defending territory and the various waterfowl choosing mates or nesting sites.

It's definitely spring in the plant community as well. Most of the trees and shrubs have leafed out now, and early flowerers like this Chokecherry are starting to bud. No doubt anyone who's been out on any of the Red Deer trails has noticed that the Balsam Poplars are shedding their winter bud covers. Those are the pointy brown "stickies" that we'll all be pulling off of our shoes, cars, and pets for the next couple of weeks.

For me, a real sign of spring is finding my first Early Blue Violet and my first Wild Strawberry flower. Keep an eye on the sun-warmed margins of the paths throughout the park for these early beauties.

Remember, if you happen to be out on the trails anywhere in the city and notice one of the Nature Centre's naturalists walking along, we'd be more than happy to answer any of your nature or history questions. And if we don't have the answer, we'll certainly give you a hand finding it.