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In deciding to move to southern Alberta three years ago, one feature Elaine and I looked for was a community that had a body of water that likely attracted birds and waterfowl. After living in Cold Lake for almost twenty years, the water became part of our bird-watching environment. Luckily we found Chestermere Lake, nestled comfortably within a beautiful community, providing recreational opportunities and a home for many bird species to appreciate and photograph.

Over the spring, summer and early fall of 2021, we thought regular observations of birding life that we would record on the ebird.org website, would tell the story of how valuable Chestermere Lake is for waterfowl and birds.

At Cove Beach, the trees hold small surprises, such as yellow-rumped warblers, house finches, American goldfinches and ruby-crowned kinglets, each searching for insects to consume. At ground level, you may be fortunate to see a beautiful northern flicker digging for larvae in the grass.

Our “regular” birds, the House Sparrows, European Starlings, Ring-Billed Gulls, Black-Billed Magpies and Rock Pigeons, add to the movement, energy and awareness of feathered life around the lake.

From April 5th to October 6th, I enjoyed my 54 walks along the lake. Starting in The Cove, a stroll might take me as far as “Dog Beach,” or when more ambitious, walk entirely around the north section of the lake, taking time to check the small pond at Founder’s Point when heading home. Not to be missed, of course, is the stormwater pond tucked nicely in the northwest corner of the area that surrounds the paved walking paths.

The value of having water bodies for waterfowl and birds cannot be understated. Over the six months, it is incredible how many species of birds make Chestermere Lake a stopover location or, in many cases, a home to raise a new generation of fliers.

With the changing of the seasons, the number of species one sees certainly varies, with the spring and fall migrations providing the widest variety of opportunities. In exploring the ebird.org website, no less than 176 species of birds and waterfowl have been spotted and recorded at Chestermere Lake, with some sightings dating as far back as 1982.

Elaine and Don 2021

Elaine & Don Cassidy

To date, Elaine and I have seen 91 different species in our bird-watching adventures in Chestermere, and we are always looking for a surprise bird. Of immeasurable value are the cattail and reed beds that envelop the north canal, the storm pond, and the western shore of the lake’s northern half.

These locations provide nesting sites for birds and wildfowl – some we can easily see, such as the red-winged blackbird and yellow-headed blackbird. These two species in the hundreds construct nests just above water level, out of our sight and safe from predators. In some secrecy, various waterfowl make homes in the cattails and reeds.

Rarely seen is the sora rail, a tiny, unusual-looking creature. The storm pond and the lake’s west side were homes to several sora rails this year. Horned grebes, coots, mallards and blue-winged teals also create families in those hidden places. The marsh wren is a small, chatty homeowner in the cattails, rarely seen unless it is curious about your presence.

Marsh Wren Sitting Within Plants

Marsh Wren

The cattails and reeds also provide hiding places for sleeping at night. During my early morning walks, it was not unusual to see ducks and coots emerge from hiding and move into view. Aside from the waterfowl making great use of the shoreline, birds in great variety rely on the lake for food and locations to perch and rest.

The small falcon species called Merlins, known for its distinctive screech when perched on rooftops along the lake, nab dragonflies, damselflies and other insects to feed their young. At times sizable flocks of tree swallow, some barn swallows and purple martins pursue hatches of midges, and caddis flies just above the waves.

The small pond near the Brightpath Daycare location is home to blue-winged teals, mallards, blackbirds and, sometimes, smaller songbirds.

Founder’s Point pond is well guarded by the red-winged blackbird couples that raise their young in that location. Ducks, including teals, redheads and canvasbacks, have also made stops in the pond.

When the exit canal connecting Chestermere Lake to McElroy Slough is low, it becomes a food source for shorebirds like the Greater Yellow Legs. Chestermere Lake is truly a gem for birdwatchers.

Below is a list with pictures of some of the amazing birds of Chestermere. They may help you possibly identify some birds you see out on the lake!

 

All Pictures taken by Don & Elaine Cassidy

 

Western Tanager

Birds of Chestermere Western Tanager

Red Winged Blackbird

Birds of Chestermere Red Winged Blackbird

Cinnamon Teal

Cinnamon Teal Bird

Yellow Rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler Bird

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat Bird

American Coot

Birds of Chestermere - American Coot

Northern Shoveler

Birds of Chestermere - Northern Shoveler

Yellow Headed Blackbird

Birds of Chestermere - Yellow Headed Blackbird

Marsh Wren

Birds of Chestermere - Marsh Wren

Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter swan in flight

Tundra Swan

Tundra Swan on Lake Chestermere

Black Billed Magpie

House Sparrow

Mallard

Merlin’s

Check Back For More Birds Of Chestermere! 

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