Red Deer River Naturalists

The Red Deer river Naturalists are a group dedicated to learning about and preserving natural history. They have regular programs with speakers and many field trips.


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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Large Flocks of Robins in Red Deer

     Today I noticed about 50 Robins in my block feeding on Mountain Ash berries. The first Robin I saw this spring was Mar. 28. I would think other birders had seen robins before that date. I saw only 2 or 3 birds and for most of the time no birds. So today it was surprising to see so many Robins in a small area. I walked around my neighborhood and they were only in my block. Scott Raabis reported the same activity with Robins in his area. I'm sure there were other areas of the city that had the 50 or so robins.

     I think that the few early robins we get are those that winter not very far south from us. The robins that appeared today probably winter much further south and fly north in a flock. The early robins seem to appear in ones and twos.

     The robins today were very active. They were eating large amounts of Mountain Ash berries. They were flying around from tree to tree and across the street. There was much chatter and the odd one was calling for a partner. 

     So it was great to see some action on the Robin front.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tundra Swans Fly Over City

      Tundra swans flew over me last night as I was out for my evening walk. Tundra swans are majestic birds and when they fly by they catch your attention. These birds flew over about 8:30 PM just before the sun was setting. they were probably looking for the Red Deer River which was about 5 km away. Putting down on the river would give them a safe resting place for the night.

     The swan on the water is impressive because of it's great size and also because it silently and effortlessly floats through the water unless it is attaching some sort of predator. Swans in flight are huge birds which seem to float through the air with very little effort. Hearing the voice from a distance quickly gets your atention. 

     Tundra swans will stay in the Red Deer region resting a feeding until they decide to fly to their nesting grounds On the Arctic coast.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Jack Rabbits Turning Brown

    The Jack Rabbit in my area are half changed to the summer brown. I saw one last evening as he was sitting in a grassy area. He was still quite obvious because there was still quite a lot of white showing. The time is soon coming(I hope) when the snow is gone. If you're a Jack rabbit you don't want to be caught with a white coat when the snow is gone.
We'll soon see these little guys

     For me the changing of the rabbit's color is always a definite signal of the season changing. Other creatures are much less noticeable. The weasel changes but we rarely see them so they do not have such a big influence on us. So another winter is officially over once the Jack Rabbit has changed to the summer brown.
The regular summer Jack Rabbit color. I wonder how many Jack Rabbit have learned this trick?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bird Focus Field Trip April 2

    The Red Deer Naturalist bird focus group had a very active and successful field trip on April 2. Many migrating species have arrived and they show up in the observations.

    Species observed:
      4 Snowy Owls
      25 Red-tailed Hawks
      22 Rough-legged Hawks
      3 northern Harriers
      5 mature and 1 immature Bald Eagles
      Peregrine Falcon
      Western Meadowlark
      Northern Shrike
      Canada Geese
      Northern Pin tail
      Tundra Swans
      Mountain Bluebirds
      Sand Hill Cranes
      American Tree Sparrows
      Common Red Poll
      Dark-eyed Junco
      American Robin
      Common Raven
      American Crow
      Black-capped Chickadee
      European Starling
      Rock Pigeon
     House Sparrow
     Mule Deer
     White Tailed Deer
     Red Squirrel
     Richardson's Ground Squirrel

Monday, April 2, 2012

Deer Herd in City

     I was surprised last night to bump into eleven mule deer right in the middle of the Sunnybrook subdivision in Red Deer. 

     I first ran into four deer. A doe and two fawns were grazing in somebody's  front yard. One deer stood in the middle of the little Close and didn't want to give up any ground. The three at the house didn't want to run by me into the forest. They ran up the street about a block and disappeared.

    I continued my walk toward where the deer disappeared. Before I got very far a herd of deer ran toward me but they had wisely chosen the opposite side of the street. They all high tailed it into the forest.

   We don't often see this many deer together in the city so it was a pleasant surprise. And so guess what? I didn't have my camera.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Erin Cameron to Speak on Earthworms

     At the regular general meeting of the Red Deer Naturalists on Thur. April 26 Erin Cameron will speak on Earthworms and the Boreal Forest. All are welcome to attend this presentation at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre. This is a free presentation.

      One thing I found interesting is that we do not have any native species of earth worm in North America. Ours got wiped out in the ice age. The earthworms we have now are from other parts of the world. Erin is looking at the earthworms which are now in the Boreal forest.

Monday Birding March 26

    The Red Deer River Naturalists had a very productive Monday bird focus field trip on March 26. Sixteen different species were sighted and some were the first of the year.

     The area covered was from Red Deer to Ponoka.

    Sightings made were Bohemian Waxwings, Merlin, American Crow, Red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, Canada Geese, European Starlings, American Tree sparrow, Downy Woodpecker, Black-capped Chickadee, Dark-eyed Junco, Great Horned Owl(on the nest), Northern Shrike, Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Harrier, Common Raven(on the nest) and 5 Great Blue Herons.