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Join us as we explore the breathtaking mountains of Kananaskis Valley and Banff National Park. Situated a short drive west of Calgary Alberta, this stunning landscape is part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site. This region has a great combination of stunning mountain vistas, turquoise lakes, thundering waterfalls, fast moving rivers and some incredible birds like Harlequin Duck, Clark’s Nutcracker and Western Tanager.
Breeding season will be in full swing and birding will be the focus each morning. The bulk of our days will be spent exploring the foothills and mountains of Kananaskis Valley and Banff National Park, along with stops to explore some wonderfully diverse prairie sloughs. In addition to birding we will have the opportunity to see lots of mammals including Elk, Bighorn Sheep and possibly even bears.
Combine this tour with our Alberta Birds & Dinosaurs tour.
Day 1: Arrival in Calgary
Day 2: Frank Lake IBA and the foothills southwest of Calgary
Day 3: Kananaskis Valley
Day 4: Banff National Park
Day 5: Foothills
Day 6: Departure
Participants will be arriving in Calgary throughout the day. For those arriving early, there are opportunities for birding in and around Calgary. The Inglewood Bird Sanctuary along the Bow River is an excellent area for foothills and riverine species, and is easily accessible within the city of Calgary. Alternately, there are some great museums worth visiting in the city. We meet in the evening at our hotel for a get-together and a discussion of our upcoming Canadian Rockies birding tour. Night in Calgary.
We depart Calgary early and drive to the Frank Lake Important Bird and Biodiversity Area for prairie wetland birds including White-faced Ibis, Cinnamon Teal and Western Grebe. We then head west out of the prairies and into the foothills region visiting several great birding locations including Brown-Lowry Provincial Park and Elbow Falls where our targets will include American Three-toed Woodpecker, American Dipper and Harlequin Duck. Night in Cochrane.
Today we travel to the fantastically beautiful Kananaskis Valley, on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. This area consists mainly of Lodgepole pine and spruce forest, with aspen and willow near water. Several large lakes and extensive wetlands dot the valley. The diverse habitats at the low elevations along the highway support a great variety of bird species. During the day we visit several locations where we look for Mountain Chickadees, Townsend’s Warbler, Bighorn Sheep and Barrow’s Goldeneye. We then head for our accommodations for two nights in the town of Banff.
On our first morning we will venture up to the top of Sulphur Mountain on the Gondola to take in the awe-inspiring views of Banff National Park. Here we should find Clark's Nutcracker and will have a shot at other high elevation bird species like Fox Sparrow and perhaps even a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch. After the Gondola we'll head out on the road to explore some of the many great birding sites, and mountain vistas of Banff National Park. Time permitting we'll aim to spend a bit of time exploring the Lake Louise area. Night in Banff
We check out of our hotel and explore some of the local birding hotspots that we didn't hit on Day 4 before heading back out to the foothills. We'll aim to stop for some wetland specialties in the Cochrane area including LeConte's Sparrow and depending on the spring water levels, Yellow Rail. Back at our hotel in Calgary in the evening for our wrap-up dinner.
Our Canadian Rockies tour ends today, you can depart anytime today.
Canadian Rockies: Kananaskis 2018 species list (pdf)Canadian Rockies: Waterton 2017 species list (pdf)
• Moderate walking, some hiking
• Highly variable weather
• Good quality accommodation
• Price includes breakfasts and lunches throughout
• 4 to 8 participants with one leader; 9 to 12 participants with two leaders
On our Canadian Rockies birding tour, you can expect early morning starts each day, with the occasional before-breakfast trip as we search out breeding and late migrant birds. Weather conditions during the trip should include warm and sunny days, possibly some rain, and the nights will be cool, and sometimes cold, in the mountains.
We walk easy to moderate lowlands and mountain trails, sometimes for periods of up to two hours. A reasonable level of fitness will be required. We also bird along roadways and woodland trails, occasionally venturing into low brush and swampy and uneven terrain. During these times, we stop frequently to observe wildlife. We usually have picnic lunches while we soak up panoramic views.
In the evening, we may arrange to go to a local restaurant selected for good food and comfortable atmosphere. During this time we discuss the day’s activities, review the list of birds seen and heard, and set out plans for the next day.
• All accommodations (Good quality)• Breakfasts and lunches• Ground transportation (15 passenger vans)• Guides• All park, conservation and entrance fees• Gratuities
Not Included:• Evening meals not included• Flights to and from start/end location• Travel Insurance• Items of a personal nature
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