Here's how to go on an Alberta wildlife safari, according to naturalist Brian Keating
Southern Alberta the place to spot birds, birds and more birds
Birds of a feather flock by the thousands together — or at least in Medicine Hat they do.
Brian Keating, a Calgary-based naturalist, recently took a "southern Alberta wildlife safari," spotting provincial locals including a saw-whet owl, eagles, pronghorn antelope, white tail deer — and counted about 10,000 geese.
Last week, with two college friends, Keating watched the birds make their descent in Medicine Hat.
"We watched V after V, line after line of geese coming in for a landing on the South Saskatchewan River, ten at a time or 100 at a time, one flock after the other until well after dark," Keating told CBC's The Homestretch.
It's rare to see that many geese outside of the Spring or Fall migration, Keating said, but since the river isn't fully frozen, some of the birds opted to do the "less risky option" of overwintering.
"Canada's a pretty darn hard place to survive in the middle of winter for most of these birds, and it's only the most specialized Canadian birds who can survive here overwintering."
In the days prior, Keating and his wife were camping at Cypress Hills Provincial Park, which led to another unique bird sighting.
"[A] little pop can size saw-whet owl came in as we were sitting around the campfire. We heard it calling from a distance, and we were able to track it down."
With Spring a little over a week away, about a dozen male gophers peeked their heads out, waiting for the females to appear. And watching them, Keating said, was a golden eagle on a telephone pole "obviously taking advantage of these early risers."
It wasn't all birds though — Keating's trip was taken with the initial objective of spotting pronghorn antelope, and that he did.
"I wanted to see the big numbers of them, they tend to bunch up in the winter. We counted 70 in three different herds, which was fantastic," Keating said.
For more fascinating stories about Alberta's wildlife from naturalist Brian Keating, visit his website and check out these stories:
- Naturalist Brian Keating gets 'birds-eye view' of flicker nest with spy cam
- Weasels are small but serious predators capable of eating 35% of their body weight each day
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