Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Birds of November

To me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of birdwatching is the camaraderie. You may only have met someone five minutes ago, but if you happen to share a great bird sighting with them, you have something in common and will remember them for years. Who among us has not struck up a conversation with a perfect stranger because you heard them say "juvenile plumage Swainson's hawk" instead of just calling it a hawk?

Another perk to our hobby is having a group of like-minded friends who understand why you're doing the crazy-lifer-bird-dance when you finally tick that nemesis off your list. And they understand both 'nemesis' and 'list' because they have their own.

Watching a new birdwatcher fledge into a full blown birder, however, is the best part of this hobby for me.

Five years ago Calgarian Daniel Arndt wasn't particularly interested in birds, although he has always felt the strong pull of nature. Then he saw a Western Kingbird in Mexico, and was blown away when the guide said that bird spent his summers in Alberta.

Now he is outside every possible minute, puts hundreds of miles on his car looking for birds, has lists of lists, various smart phone apps, reports to eBird regularly, writes for a local bird blog, leads bird tours and takes some outstanding bird photographs. He also has a B.Sc. in Natural Science, and another in Geology, both from the University of Calgary.

Dan is more than willing to come to the aid of a friend when she has absolutely nothing to blog about. November is a frantically busy month for me. I haven't been birding in weeks, and while attempting to take pictures of the Pine Grosbeaks in my yard recently, discovered my old auto-focus camera is no longer inclined to focus on anything.

While I've been swearing at cameras and stuck in front of a computer, Dan has been taking some gorgeous photos of birds in Alberta. This seemed to be the perfect time to show off his work. You can see more of his photos on his Flickr page.

American Three-toed Woodpecker

American Tree Sparrow

Bohemian Waxwing

Boreal Chickadee

Common Redpoll

Great Gray Owl


Mountain Chickadee

Northern Hawk Owl

Pine Grosbeak

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Snow Bunting

Snowy Owl

Townsend's Solitaire

White-winged Crossbill

And you thought we didn't have any birds up here in the winter...


  1. Wow!! Those Owls are somethin' else!
    It's always great to get a taste of Boreal birding from you Pat. It seems like such a different experience from birding in the Sonoran Desert. Some day...

    Thanks for sharing

    1. I've birded the Sonoran Desert and trust me, your birds are WAY easier to see than boreal birds big or little!

  2. Thanks for sharing Daniel's photography highlighting the amazing birds in your area.

  3. They are great photos, and I suppose he has a great camera. Do you know what he uses?

  4. Beautiful birds. I like that American tree sparrow.

  5. Thanks for all the wonderful comments, folks! The camera that I use for these photos are either the Pentax K-5 or Pentax K-30 body, with a Sigma 150-500mm 5.0-6.3, or a Sigma 70-300 3.5-5.6, and sometimes combined with a Tamron 1.4x Teleconverter.

  6. Congrats on your mentoring skills, Pat! I think Daniel caught the competitive spirit of birding, the hunt for the most/rarest/best birds, shooting the most exquisite photos (and they are!), having the best equipment.... I can empathize with that! Hope you'll get your autofocus fixed soon.

  7. I love that Boreal Chickadee shot as well as the owls, and well, all of them. Great post!

  8. Whoa....these are all gorgeous photos. I'm in love with the Northern Hawk Owl, the Great Grey, the Boreal Chickadee, the Bohemian Waxwing....and all the rest too!

  9. Thanks guys. I can't take credit for Dan's beautiful photos, but at least I came up with the idea to ask for his help this month. Glad you like them!

  10. November birding certainly is wonderful in your area. Dan's photographs are spectacular! I oohed and ahhed while scrolling through this wonderful post.

  11. November seems a wonderful month for birding there!