Birding the West End of Fish Creek Park, Calgary
Fish Creek Provincial Park is a large and beautiful natural area in Calgary, Alberta. The park covers more than thirteen square kilometers and is riddled with trails for walking and biking. Those trails make the park popular with families and dog walkers, so you won't be lonely. FCP has about a dozen obvious access points, each with a parking lot; they're uniquely named and well marked to make it easy to meet up with your friends! I'll eventually write about all parts of the park, but this post will focus on the western-most areas: Bebo Grove, Shannon Terrace, and Marshall Springs. Here's a link to a park map:
Birding is the highlight in this area, but there's a chance of mammal encounters as well. Red squirrels are common, while weasels and bobcats are seen occasionally.
Bebo Grove and Shannon Terrace are Hotspots on Ebird.org, so that's an excellent resource if you want to see some bird lists. Over the course of a year, you might find as many as 140 species. It's winter as I write this, and notable recent sightings include Pileated Woodpecker, Three-toed Woodpecker, and Pygmy Owl. Other interesting winter residents include Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, White- and Red-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creepers, Blue Jays, and Belted Kingfishers.
Shannon Terrace is home to the Fish Creek Environmental Learning Center, a nature school that hosts students from Calgary-area schools. You'll also find a curious fenced-off area; it contains a hibernaculum, some kind of secret underground snake den.
From Shannon Terrace, the walk to Votier's Flats is about six klicks, passing Bebo Grove along the way. The paths are well maintained year-round, and there are plenty of smaller trails you can follow to change the pace or follow the path of the creek.