Becoming Bird-Alert

Maybe it’s slowly creeping into me over past few years –I’ve become acutely aware of birds as I spin along on bike into park areas or rest for a short time near trees, bushes and tall grasses.

Cedar Waxwing, probably chubby with fruit. Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

It’s like a candle has been lit in me.  Especially this year, I notice bird shadows flitting in front, to the side, or above me. Or the sweeping chorus of multi-bird songs and warbles in the morning, as I spin slowly pass leafy thick bushes and trees along the way.

Savannah Sparrow, Nose Creek Park. Calgary AB, 2020. Photo by J.Chong

Morning Shock of Unexpected Hawks
Over a year ago, I cycled past what appeared to me, a reddish hawk that landed on a fence. I never stopped. And I regretted it since I had my camera in my pannier.

Suddenly this summer, at approximately the same spot, one, then shortly a second and shockingly a third Swainson’s Hawk, perched on the same fence by the golf course.  Miraculously, they didn’t care about me only 5 metres away, shooting photo after photo.

Swainson’s Hawks. Nose Creek Park, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong
Savannah Sparrow. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

I must have filled my memory card with several hundred shots of those hawks.

Swainson’s Hawk. Nose Creek Park, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong. These hawks migrate in fall as far south to Chile and Argentina.

Leaning on Bike Routes and Parks for Birds
This year, I’m preferring bike routes and parks where various birds hang out often. The smaller ones like to fly into thick wild bushes along rivers and creeks to hide, but still sing happily along …or warn others of hulking humans like myself.

Female common merganser. Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

I have yet to capture in order to identify the breed of rare small flashes of yellow in a bird. So small and quick.  I lost out  capturing photos of 3-4 orange orioles one early morning.  Not sure which type because they were constantly winging around the river grasses in their dance.

Cedar Waxwing, Nose Creek Park. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong
Broad-Winged Hawk. Nose Creek Park. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

Once I was descending on bike, a 10% grade small hill and was suddenly halfway, stopped short by sight of 3 cedar waxwings, their plump beige bodies with tiny slash of orange and yellow tinged breast while one of them gobbled fruit in its beak.

Underside of Cedar Waxwing. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong
Osprey up in its tangled large nest. Nose Creek Park, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong
Northern Flicker. East Village, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

I still can’t recognize nor care to spend time recognizing bird songs. Nor do I want the weight of lugging around a long macro lens on a camera.  Binoculars only give me closer sight, not a snapshot for my memories.  So not worth my investment dollars.

Northern Flicker. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong
Barn Swallow. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong
Savannah Sparrow. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

I’m not that much of a birding fan to be weighed down by more gear.  I may concede to long wind pants for morning or evening haunts occasionally.

Swainson’s Hawk flexing its wings. Nose Creek Park, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong
Swainson’s Hawks. Nose Creek, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

We’ll see. For now, I just want to sharpen my eyes to see more different birds hidden in their leafy kingdom. Maybe an owl will reveal itself in the trees one day.

Oh wait–was that just a yellow leaf that blew by or a yellow bird that I missed?

Common female merganser. Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong
Osprey. Nose Creek Park, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J. Chong. Osprey have 1 reversible toe claw for them to grasp an edible creature with 2 claws on back and front of it.
Swainson’s Hawk calling. Nose Creek Park, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong
Swainson’s Hawk looking up. Nose Creek, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

Resources for Bird Fans
Cornell Lab of Orinthology. Best web site to identify a bird species.

Calgary Ebird  –or type your city name in URL address in browser, then Ebird.  A geospatial map on top right of ebird page, for you to zoom in and hopefully, find some bird hotspots.

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Fabulous pictures Jean!! Since COVID, I’ve noticed more people writing about the nature they’ve noticed that they’ve never spent much time noticing before. Or in your case, magnifying what you’ve noticed before. A small bit of lemonade…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Yes, I love that lemonade from a lemon of this time in history, AGMA. Hope you’re finding little good things during these challenging times.

      Like

  2. That 1st Osprey looks like he woke up on the wrong side of the bedQ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Yes, toussled head. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Wow, how creepy, fossil! A buzzard mistakening you for edible animal… ! Pretty bold or maybe the buzzard had dementia.

      Like

      1. Probably protecting chicks maybe?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. But it’s lovely to see them (and doge them at times!!)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sue Slaght says:

    Such marvelous photos Jean. Amazing what we can see in nature if we take the time. I’ll be watching more closely on the paths.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Amazing how blithe I used to be, bicycling on our pathways and not really pay attention to whatever was flying around. Now I need to ensure I don’t ride into a pothole while looking elsewhere. Apparently birding is riding a surge of popularity due to people keeping to their local areas.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Graham Tait says:

    Wow, these photos and stories are amazing! I’m inspired to be more bird-aware when out cycling through out beautiful landscapes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      I’m sure you’ll be in for some surprises. For the longest while, I never really paid attention at all. Wishing you tailwinds for most of your rides!

      Like

  6. Lani says:

    I’ve never seen an Osprey up close like that. And your hawk photos. Really magical snaps, Jean!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Thx, they were surprise viewings! I now must have my camera in my cycling jacket pocket –just in case.

      Liked by 1 person

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