Friday, 29 June 2012

Frank Lake revisited

Frank Lake

On our last visit in 2010 Frank Lake was one of my favourite spots.  A large open body of water in the prairies about an hour south of Calgary.  Reedy fringes and wet grassland make this a must for any birder.  We started at the large hide and were soon watching dozens of Black-necked (Eared) Grebes with their young right underneath our watching position.  Forster's Terns were nesting nearby and White-faced Ibises and Franklin's Gulls were flying back and forth to their nesting areas. Out on the open water 2 pairs of Western Grebes floated lazily with their chicks and large rafts of Redheads were present.

Black-necked (Eared Grebe)
Forster's Tern
  Before leaving we heard a Sora Rail but failed to call it out in the open and also added Willet and Wilson's Phalarope to our list.  A sudden commotion as we headed back to the car saw the Forster's Terns chasing off a young Black-crowned Night Heron.  We moved on around to the east shore of the lake and drove down a quiet track past some farms.  We had great fortune to find a Western Kingbird on overhead wires but could not get any pictures.  Parking up here I walked down a lane to a point where lagoons and reeds spread out on either side of me.  Several Black-necked Stilts, Killdeers and Lesser Yellowlegs were feeding in shallow areas with about 30 Wilson's Phalaropes.  The reversed  activity of the sexes meant that I only noticed one female but the rest were all males presumably looking after eggs or young.  I would guess most had hatched as I did get a glimpse of a couple of chicks.  Willet called overhead and hordes of Gadwall, Blue-winged Teal and Shovelers were everywhere.  I walked back to the car and I noticed a small orange-headed sparrow on a post.  A quick glance with the binoculars revealed a Le Conte's Sparrow a new species for me.  I raised my lens but once again failed to get a shot.

Black-necked Stilt
Male Wilson's Phalarope
We continued our tour around the lake checking prairie fields.  A pair of Marbled Godwits were displaying over one damp field and close scrutiny of small birds revealed quite a few Horned Larks and Vesper Sparrows.

Horned Lark

Vesper Sparrow
We moved on to the western shore but added little else except for a friendly Eastern Kingbird.

Eastern Kingbird
We left the lake and heading back there was one more exciting moment as a Swainson's Hawk perched on a post with its prey.

Swainson's Hawk with prey
We shall certainly come back to Frank Lake before returning to the UK.

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