Friday, 16 June 2017 08:00

The Crowsnest Pass species count celebrates another successful and interesting event

Written by  Demi Knight
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Bird enthusiasts Lisa Gaunt, Pat Lucas and Denise Coccioloni-Amatto looking for birds north of the Gap. Bird enthusiasts Lisa Gaunt, Pat Lucas and Denise Coccioloni-Amatto looking for birds north of the Gap. Photo contributed by Crowsnest Conservation Society

On May 24-25, the 12th annual Crowsnest Pass May species count was conducted by the Crowsnest Conservation Society’s birding committee.

This organized event corralled volunteers from across the province to brave the great Albertan winds and spend the weekend counting bird and mammal species within the area.
This counting event had professionals and volunteers alike scouring the lands from Summit Lake at the British Columbia and Alberta border to the end of Hillcrest.
Upon their Wednesday adventures, volunteers traveled from Summit lake to Burmis lake counting an array of species from mammals and birds to amphibians and reptiles.
The second day of the event saw the volunteers moving to investigate side roads of the junctions off Highways 3 and 22, north of the gap.
As eager participants looked on with binoculars and cameras over the two-day search, large amounts of species were uncovered.
With 2,957 individual birds counted, fitting into approximately 135 different bird species, this year’s count brought the second highest discovery numbers since Crowsnest Conservation began participating in the provincial event. Last year, numbers showed a slightly lower amount of species observed at 132, however, a higher individual count of birds was documented at 3,628.
Crowsnest Conservation Society Birding Committee member Merilyn Liddell says the counting event was not only a chance to gain more knowledge, but entertaining for all participants.
“The birds that did show up kept us entertained.
At one stop, while watching an aerial battle between a raven and a ferruginous hawk, a Swainson’s hawk jumped into the fray. Then a bald eagle just coming into adult plumage joined the fight, followed by a sub-adult golden eagle — an incredible display of doggedness and aerial manoeuvers, over in about five minutes.”
The show however didn’t stop there for the volunteers, as another raven and bald eagle were spotted in a field together on top of a deer carcass. Although the audience didn’t see a full show of the two birds scrapping over the pieces, they did witness the eagle fly off leaving the carcass behind for the raven.
“Other highlights reported by count participants included an extended look at a northern Waterthrush, a small warbler with a loud voice, easy to hear, but often difficult to see, and watching three pairs of harlequin ducks riding the rapids,” says Liddell.
The spring species count that occurred this year is just one of many events that take place throughout the year within the province to help better educate the public on the health and habitats of natural environments.
All information received from the annual spring species count is shared with Nature Alberta to better communicate and document wildlife within the province. All details from the Crowsnest Pass count are offered for the public’s viewing online at: at the end of June.
Information is also supplied by the Crowsnest conservation at this time regarding the next bird event taking place this summer at the Crowsnest Pass Doors Open and Heritage Festival that occurs later this summer in August.

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