Southern Alberta, Prairie Potholes
New this year!
We are offering two Extension Trips, one before the AGM, and one after.
Pre-conference Extension May 24 to May 27 – Starts in Canmore, ends in Lethbridge
Post-conference Extension May 29 to June 1 – Starts in Cranbrook, ends near Calgary
Leader: Daniel Arndt
Group size: 15 maximum, 8 minimum
Transportation: Carpooling. Should you carpool with others, a suitable donation to the driver for gas costs is expected.
Cost: $200.00 per person. Transportation, accommodation, and food not included.
Registration: Will be opened on April 2, 2016 at 0900 PDT. No prior registrations can be accepted.
Registrations will be accepted first-come, first served. To ensure you reserve your place on an extension trip, please read the information below very carefully. If the trips fill, waitlists will be made.
You may register for the extension via the BCFO website only. Payments may be made on-line when registering (preferred), or by mailed cheque following online registration.
1. Complete the online registration form, and pay via the PayPal button provided,
2. Complete the online registration form. Mail your cheque to BCFO, which must be received within two weeks of your online registration, or before May 19, which ever is sooner. Receipt of your registration and payment will be acknowledged.
When registering, you must indicate which trip you want to go on. If you wish to be considered for both trips if your first choice is filled, you must indicate a first and a second choice.
Spaces will be allocated in order of receipt of payment via PayPal, or date and time of on-line registration. For those paying by cheque, registration will be confirmed upon payment being received by BCFO.
Important Information: Both extensions are scheduled to visit the same locations, and target the same species, but the routes will be reversed. This will enable participants to arrive on time for the start of the AGM from the Pre-conference Extension, and depart from Cranbrook at the conclusion of the AGM to start the Post-conference Extension.
Extension trips are considered part of AGM activities. Participants are required to be paid up delegates to the AGM.
Detailed itineraries of both trips are shown below.
BCFO EXTENSION TRIP (Pre-Conference) 2016
Southern Alberta Prairie Potholes May 24 – 27, 2016
Day 1: 24 May 2016, half-day.
After a scenic drive into Alberta through the Rocky Mountains, we’ll meet with our guide in Canmore at noon to begin our search for species more common to Southern Alberta than to much of British Columbia. We will meander east through the front ranges and foothills of the Rockies in search of Red-naped Sapsucker, Dusky Flycatcher, Veery, Ovenbird, American Redstart and White-winged Crossbill. We will work our way southwest to Frank Lake where we’ll begin our search for various shorebirds and waders, such as White-faced Ibis, Willet, Long-billed Curlew, Marbled and Hudsonian Godwit, Red Knot and Wilson’s and Red-necked Phalarope. If luck is on our side, a local breeding colony of Bobolink will be on territory by this time of year, and we will certainly find many American White Pelicans and Swainson’s Hawks along the way. After we’ve birded the lake, we’ll head back to Calgary for an early evening check-in.
Day 2: 25 May 2016, full day
A pre-sunrise start will put us on the road heading back to the northwest of Calgary to the Horse Creek Road marshes which have always been a reliable spot to look and listen for Yellow Rails. While we’re here, we’ll be on the look out for both LeConte’s and Nelson’s Sparrows, and watch for Mountain Bluebird boxes along the way. From there, we’ll meander east towards Brooks, taking a few back roads here and there to check for Loggerhead Shrike, Sprague’s Pipit, and Baird’s Sparrow in the prairies, while also stopping at Weed Lake, Eagle Lake, and Marsland Basin where we’ll find Black-crowned Night Heron, Black-necked Stilts, American Avocets, Black and Forster’s Tern, and with the possibility of a slight detour to look for Piping Plover. We’ll take a midday break in Brooks before taking the rest of the day to continue our meandering tour of the prairies, with targets such as Chestnut-collared Longspur, McCown’s Longspur, Lark Bunting and Brewer’s Sparrow throughout the Eastern Irrigation District, while keeping our eyes open for much harder to find birds like Burrowing Owl and Ferruginous Hawk before ending our day back in Brooks.
Day 3: 26 May 2016, full day
On our third day of prairie birding, we’ll spend the early morning in Kinbrook Island Provincial Park, on the shores of Lake Newell, looking for migrants that have stopped over for the night in the well established riparian areas surrounding the lake. We’ll also be looking for Baltimore Oriole, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Least and Alder Flycatcher, and of course the massive colonies of Franklin’s and California Gulls along the edges of the lake. Once we’ve finished at the lake, we’ll head north to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Dinosaur Provincial Park where we hope to find Sprague’s Pipit, Lark and Baird’s Sparrows, Rock Wren and Yellow-breasted Chat in the rocky badlands. After breaking for lunch under the canopy of balsam poplar and trembling aspen, we’ll continue birding the Red Deer River valley in the early afternoon to find Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, Alder and Least Flycatcher, Bank Swallow, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Once we’ve completed the tour of Dinosaur Provincial Park, we’ll make our way south to Brooks and continuing on to Lethbridge along the secondary highways in search of any species we’ve missed so far along the way, and also stopping near Lomond to take another look for Chestnut-collared and McCown’s Longspurs, Lark Bunting, Grasshopper Sparrow and Common Nighthawks. We’ll end our day in Lethbridge and spend some time birding along the Oldman River Valley before calling it a night. Throughout the day, we’ll undoubtedly run across family groups of Pronghorn, White-tailed and Mule Deer, and if we’re exceptionally lucky, Plains and Wandering Garter Snakes.
Day 4: 27 May 2016, half day
Our final morning together will be spent birding at the Elizabeth Hall Wetlands and a few other parks along the Oldman River picking up a few migrant species here, and finish up our time together birding the general area around Lethbridge in search of Gray Partridge, Ferruginous and Swainson’s Hawk, and the well established populations of American White Pelican. If there are any other target species we’ve missed along the way, we’ll spend the later part of the morning tracking them down before heading to Cranbrook to meet for the Annual General Meeting. From Lethbridge, it is a 3.5 hour drive to Cranbrook.
BCFO EXTENSION TRIP 2016 (Post-Conference)
Southern Alberta Prairie Potholes May 29 – June 1, 2016
Day 1: 29 May 2016, half day
Crossing into Alberta via Highway 3, we will drive east through the foothills fescue and mixedgrass prairie through Pincher Creek, Fort Macleod and finally arriving in Lethbridge. After an early check-in to hotels, we will meet our guide and begin our trip by birding the Lethbridge area in search of typical prairie species such as Swainson’s and Ferruginous Hawks, Gray Partridge, American White Pelican, and the first of many prairie sparrows.
Day 2: 30 May 2016, full day
We’ll have an early start to the morning to bird the Elizabeth Hall Wetlands in search of migrants that may have stopped in the riparian belt along Oldman River Valley overnight. From there, we’ll head north and east to Brooks, stopping on the prairies near Lomond to look for Grasshopper Sparrows, Chestnut-collared Longspurs, Lark Bunting, and Common Nighthawks before continuing on to Brooks. From Brooks, we’ll continue north to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Dinosaur Provincial Park where we hope to find Sprague’s Pipit, Lark and Baird’s Sparrows, Rock Wren and Yellow-breasted Chat in the rocky badlands. After breaking for lunch under the canopy of balsam poplar and trembling aspen, we’ll continue birding the Red Deer River valley in the early afternoon to find Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, Alder and Least Flycatcher, Bank Swallow, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Once we’ve completed the tour of Dinosaur Provincial Park, we’ll make our way back to Brooks a round-about way stopping at various ponds, sloughs and marshes in the Eastern Irrigation District to search for shorebirds, especially Black-necked Stilt, White-faced Ibis, Upland Sandpiper, Long-billed Curlew and Wilson’s Phalarope, with the usual accompaniment of both Black and Forster’s Terns before ultimately continuing our search for some harder to find prairie species, such as Brewer’s Sparrow, Burrowing Owl, and McCown’s Longspur in some of the extensive native grassland in the area. Along the way, we’ll undoubtedly run across family groups of Pronghorn, White-tailed and Mule Deer, and if we’re exceptionally lucky, Plains and Wandering Garter Snakes.
Day 3: 31 May 2016, full day
Another early morning begins with birding the north shore of Lake Newell in Kinbrook Island Provincial Park. This lake is one of the largest lakes in south-eastern Alberta, and home to colonies of California and Franklin’s Gulls. Our focus will mainly be in the wooded area to spot some of the riparian specialists that breed here, such as Baltimore Orioles, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, White-throated Sparrows and any number of migrants stopping over on their travels northward. Following our exploration of the park, we’ll make our way ultimately towards Calgary along a meandering route that will take us in search of any prairie species we may have missed out on so far, but with an eye towards a search for Piping Plover, Red Knot, Prairie Falcon and Loggerhead Shrike. We’ll stop at Marsland Basin, Eagle Lake, and Weed Lake to round out our shorebird observations for the trip, and complete our last full day in Calgary with an early evening check in.
Day 4: 1 June 2016, half day
Our last day of birding will be a pre-dawn start in order to track down the elusive Yellow Rail at the Horse Creek Road marshes northwest of Calgary. While here, we’ll wait out sunrise in order to look and listen for LeConte’s and Nelson’s Sparrows, before heading to one of two optional locations as our final birding destination of the trip, one option would take us down Sibbald Creek Road through the mixed parkland and boreal habitats and parallel to the front ranges of the Rocky Mountains for species such as Red-naped Sapsucker, Dusky, Willow, and Olive-sided Flycatcher, Veery, White-winged Crossbill, and possible Ovenbird. This area is also home to one of the few Limber Pine populations remaining in Alberta. Alternately, a trip to Frank Lake south of Calgary may turn up any recent shorebird arrivals, as well as one of the largest Franklin’s Gull colonies in southern Alberta, late migrating Tundra or Trumpeter Swans, Yellow-headed Blackbird, and if luck holds out, spot one of our small Bobolink populations along the way. From Frank Lake, it is about a 4.5 hour drive to either Revelstoke or Cranbrook B.C.