“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
~ Rachel Carson
Inglewood Bird Sanctuary Finally Reopens
Our long wait is over: after a two year and one month wait, Inglewood Bird Sanctuary has finally reopened. Calgary’s June 2013 “Hundred Year Flood” severely affected our city’s beloved bird sanctuary and it was immediately closed to the public. Great care was taken in the restoration work so as not to disturb nesting or migrating birds, so work proceeded slowly. While a lot of restoration work clearly remains to be completed, the main pathways and pedestrian bridges have now been repaired and the sanctuary reopened its doors to a jubilant public on July 30th, 2015.
“Through these doors pass nature explorers,
observers and future stewards of our environment.”
~ Inscribed on the door to Inglewood Bird Sanctuary’s Nature School
Federal Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Calgary’s Inglewood Bird Sanctuary has been a designated Migratory Bird Sanctuary since 1929 and is one of Canada’s important protected areas for migratory birds. Of the 270 recorded bird species at Inglewood, the majority of birds use the area during spring and fall migration. But Inglewood is not just a habitat for birds—according to the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary website, the sanctuary is also home to 347 species of plants and 21 species of mammals, including beavers, muskrats, mink, white-tailed deer, mule deer, coyotes, foxes and long-tailed weasels.
An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.
~ Henry David Thoreau
A Stroll Through Inglewood Bird Sanctuary
Since the sanctuary reopened its gates on July 30th of this year, my partner and I have traversed its paths as often as we can. We are fortunate that this little slice of heaven is only a 12 minute drive from our abode (and very close to Pearce Estate Park). For us, a walk through the sanctuary is pure balm for the soul. Each visit reveals a new surprise of some sort and, now that fall migration is well underway, we look forward to enjoying more new delights.
Please join me on a virtual stroll through Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. I hope you enjoy the birds and some of the other wildlife we’ve had the pleasure of seeing since the sanctuary reopened its doors:
Sculptures of migrating birds adorn the trailhead at Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.
Close-up of migrating bird sculpture.
Three baby Cedar Waxwings wait for Mama, who is off getting some lunch for them.
Juvenile American Robin enjoying chokecherries.
“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”
~ John Burroughs
Natural grasslands flank the main pathway.
Eastern Kingbird parent feeding its fledgling.
A stream from the Bow River forms a lagoon (seen on the left) in the sanctuary.
Juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird
“Stay close to nature, it will never fail you.”
~ Frank Lloyd Wright
Newly constructed footbridge replaces a main footbridge washed out during the 2013 flood.
Unidentified LBJ (Little Brown Job). Can anyone identify this sweet little sparrow?
View from the west footbridge looking east.
Mr. & Mrs. Wood Duck. In Alberta, Wood Ducks are found only at Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, where they were introduced years ago. It is a real treat to be able to see them at all, let alone right here, in the middle of the city.
Yellow Warbler. Inglewood is an important migratory stop for migrating warblers.
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle subspecies).
Great Blue Heron basks in the morning sunshine atop a beaver dam.
A dabbling duck (female American Wigeon). I love these ducks—they always seem so peaceful and content.
A Great-Horned Owl peers down intently at us from a high perch in the early morning light. It doesn’t seem to mind that we are staring back through binoculars and camera lenses.
A baby muskrat, not much larger than a mouse, munches on some tasty reeds he has carried over to the water’s edge. This is one of two muskrat kits in a family of muskrats living at the west end of the lagoon.
A second muskrat kit stops and stands to take a good look at us, posing for a long while. This little fellow has amazingly dexterous hands.
View from the west footbridge looking east over the lagoon.
Pied-billed Grebe. One of our favourite things to do at the sanctuary is watch these guys fish. This good-sized trout put up an impressive fight, but in the end was no match for this frisky juvenile Pied-billed Grebe.
Pied-billed Grebe Battles Giant Water Bug
We observed an extraordinary battle between a young Pied-billed Grebe and an enormous Giant Water Bug (Alberta’s largest insect). We estimated the Giant Water Bug to be at least four inches long (we’d never seen one before and it was shockingly large to us). A wild, five-minute battle ensued, with both creatures flinging water and battling it out. The bug’s pincer-type appendages went flying everywhere as it tried hard to get a grasp on some sensitive part of its attacker and the Grebe, taking care not to get bitten, did not back down and flung the insect around with its bill. The Giant Water Bug fought admirably but, in the end, the Pied-billed Grebe emerged the victor and calmly ate the Giant Water Bug for lunch. Neither of us have ever before seen a Giant Water Bug—it was fascinating and shocking at the same time. One thing’s for sure: I’ll never ever stick my toe into pond water again!
Red Crossbill, so-named for its scissor-like beak, which is perfectly designed to pry open conifer cones.
Inglewood House, built in 1910 by Colonel James Walker, who settled the land in 1883, sits in the middle of what is now known as Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. The mansion (not currently in use because of ongoing repairs due to flood damage) serves as office and classroom space for the sanctuary’s staff and volunteers.
Female Belted Kingfisher shot from way far away (a bad shot, highly cropped, but my best to date!).
View of Inglewood House, looking west from across the lagoon.
American Robin. I’ll never get tired of seeing these beautiful birds!
Male Wood Duck. I’m certain this guy uses pomade on his fancy hair-do.
View from a bench facing the Bow River.
Killdeer looking for breakfast along the shores of the Bow River.
I just can’t get enough of these Wood Ducks. The males look like someone literally hand-painted them with an artist’s brush. I think the females are so pretty too, with their beautiful large white eye ring and flecked plumage.
This park bench dedication plaque perfectly conveys our sentiments about this treasured place.
Two fawns, still sporting their spots, rest in the underbrush.
Swainson’s Hawks can often be seen circling around the sanctuary, riding the updrafts. This fascinating raptor migrates from Argentina to its breeding grounds across North America, and back again to Argentina every year, an amazing round-trip journey of over 19,000 kilometers (12,000 miles).
“I thank you God for this most amazing day,
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees,
and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural,
which is infinite, which is yes.
~ E. E. Cummings
Welcome Back, Inglewood Bird Sanctuary!
Repairs are still underway and some parts of the sanctuary are still closed to the public for remediation work, but my partner and I are among the many happy people once again walking the opened paths, enjoying the trails and keeping our eyes peeled for birds and wildlife.
This post is dedicated to all the people who are still working hard to restore Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. Thank you!
All photography by madlyinlovewithlife and BJC; © 2015 madlyinlovewithlife