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Prince's Island Park, Calgary

Prince's Island is near the heart of the city, on the Bow River. This is an area of parkland and woodland which is very popular with the locals. It comprises tree-lined paths either side of the river, a lake leading to an area of marshy scrub and the parkland itself. The island has the main, fast-flowing Bow River to one side and a slow-flowing river and lake to the other. We visited this area three times during our stay: twice in the evening and once in the morning.

Prince's Island Park

Prince's Island Park

The first visit was our first chance to look for birds in North America other than from the car from the airport to the hotel. We found that birds are not common in the trees next to the river, probably due to the large number of people cycling, roller-blading and walking along the path.

The first area most people will come across is the lake. This is actually a semi-contained area of water with the river flowing in at one end and out the other. Here we had our first truly American species: Canada Goose (ubiquitous), American Wigeon, Ring-billed Gull and American Herring Gull. More familiar to British birders will be Goosander (Common Merganser), found on most areas of water in the Rockies, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, European Goldeneye and Mallard.

The scrub area, with the Bow River on one side and a stream from the lake on the other, yielded Song Sparrow and Purple Finch. Also seen here were Barn Swallows, worth watching because of the cinnamon underparts not found on the British form.

As was expected, the morning trip was more productive starting with a fine male Western Tanager in a riverside tree and a Chipping Sparrow nearby. The parkland added one loud Blue Jay and a Black-capped Chickadee. Song Sparrow was again seen near the riverside in scrub.

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