I am doing a post at this time primarily to brush up my posting skills after such a long hiatus. This in preparation for future travels.
It is almost three years since my last posting; Bangkok to Singapore. Since then the world fell into the grip of covid and the panic that accompanied it. I also began to suffer the ravishes of time. An old rugby hip injury that had plagued me for 25 years finally would not let go, as it always had. So I joined the queue for a hip replacement. In 2021, thanks to my two wonderful nieces I was able to celebrate my 80th at the Stanley Mitchel Hut in the Yoho. I hobbled in lightly loaded, while those friends and family who could join me carried food, equipment and sometimes me along the gnarled trail into my favourite part of the Rockies.
As winter approached, progressed and finally passed and my new hip failed to materialize I imagined my final years of mobility slipping away. Finally in April of 2022 I got a nice new titanium hip, and my recovery began. My mobility slowly returned. It took six weeks before I could drive my car, and then I was able to cycle a bit. Walking has been much slower, but I worked at it and it is coming. In June, pushing the recovery a bit, Rich King and I drove across Saskatchewan to Thompson and took the train into Churchill on the Hudson’s Bay. We both had been wanting to see the town and the Bay, but it was birds that dictated the time. June is a good time to see migrating birds that we don’t see in our neck of the woods. Next I drove up to Grand Prairie in August to see my son, and to look for more birds. In September I spent two weeks driving to and visiting Victoria on Vancouver Island. I biked up to 100 kms each day on my new electric bike (sorry you purists), and saw a few more birds. My final driving trip was in November, leaving Calgary in our first big snow storm, to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas to attend their annual birding conference and to visit the winter refuge for Whooping Cranes. So, 2022 has been “all about birds” to steal a tag from Cornell Labs.
In 2022 I managed to capture photos of just over 100 species of birds. About half of them were new birds to my collection. I hope it is of interest to some of you, as I would like to share some of these birds with you.
Sea and Water Birds.
I captured five kinds of Terns this year: Common, Forster’s, Arctic, Caspian and Sandwich. The most sought after was the Arctic Tern, one of the target birds for my trip to Churchill. The Arctic Tern makes arguably the longest migration of any bird, travelling continually from the Arctic to the Antarctic each year. We were able to fully appreciate the Arctic’s mastery of the air from a boat in the Churchill River. I have also included a shot of the Caspian, The largest of the Terns. This shot is taken on my trip to Texas and shows the fading black crown that happens to many black headed Terns and Gulls out of breeding season.
Another Churchill target was the Common Eider, which I guess has always been of interest because I have spent a lot of money on high quality down from these ducks. The Long-Tailed Duck was another nice addition from Churchill. The other duck that I have included is the Black-Bellied Whistling Duck from Texas. Great name and wonderful cackling on the pond by 100s made on my visit.
I love Grebes. I have included a pair of Western Grebe from Saskatchewan and the smallest ones, a Pied Grebe and a Little Grebe from Texas, both new for me.
Cranes have become a new interest for me lately. My trip to Texas was in part to visit Whooping Cranes who migrate from Wood Buffalo Park to a reserve on the gulf. As you likely know we have brought them back from the edge of extinction, around 30 birds, to a healthy 7-800. This is still very threatened but much better than 30. I made an early morning 200 km drive from “the canyon” (ie. Rio Grande) and only just caught the boat charter at 9:00 that took about 20 of us out to look for cranes. Not many have made it down from Alberta yet, but we did see about six. My photos were of a family of three, often what you see in all crane species apparently. Not great pictures but still an important check-mark.
2022 was great for shore birds. I saw Lesser Yellowlegs everywhere I went. This photo is from Grande Prairie. The Short-billed Dowitcher and the Hudsonian Godwit are from Churchill. I have good photos of six other shore bird species.
My Texas visit was great for the big Waders. All these photos come from the coast areas. The Brown Pelicans are not really waders but I added them in here. I love the yellow feet and black legs. The Tri-colored is all shook up one minute and the next silky-sleek.
The rest are land birds taken on my Texas trip. I have included shots of the Loggerhead Shrike, the Belted Kingfisher and the Merlin, just because I love these birds. The Gambel’s Quail I found on my way down in New Mexico. The big black spot of the chest differentiates it from the California Quail I shot in BC
Most of these birds are Central American birds that are only found in “the valley” in the US. The gorgeous Green Jay was my most sought after and is very common. I am familiar with the Great Kiskadee from Colombia.
The Pauraque, very strange to us Northerners, sleeps most of the day, as he is doing in my shot. I have seen Caracaras before and they are always striking.
I close with a sunset on the gulf with many bird species putting on a final show.
My next trip is soon…