Fish Creek and The Partridge Family

It sometimes seems as if my wife and I spend far too much time just watching the day to day real life dramas that play out in the park bordering our property. Fish Creek Provincial Park is one of the largest urban parks in Canada, covering some 1346 hectares , or roughly 3331 acres of land within the City of Calgary.

Lots of larger animals such as deer, coyotes, porcupines, etc. live in the park (and sometimes in our back yard !), but also many birds of all sorts and sizes. We actually keep our own log book of sightings and make a note of new species when we see them. This year, many of the birds nesting in the tall grasslands behind our place have been impacted by the construction of a BirthPlace Forest on vacant city land just to the west of us and bordering Fish Creek Park. The BirthPlace Park is sponsored mainly by BP Canada Energy (I suppose making it the BP BP F ?) and the City of Calgary. While it is tough to find fault with the planting of 6000 trees by an oil company, in the short term at least, it has been disruptive as the high grass west of us was mowed short to make way for the planting of the trees, the building of pathways, installation of watering systems and many birds which normally nest there were displaced elsewhere. I expect it will take a couple of years for things to stabilise.

In addition to two families of Ring Necked Pheasants, one of the real life stories we have been following, has been the fate of a family of Gray Partridges that sometimes comes into our yard to clean up the seed scattered on the ground by the smaller birds from our feeders. What started out as a family of 11 with the 2 parents and 9 chicks seen in the photo to the right, dwindled over the late spring to 6 chicks, then by early summer to 4 and then recently down to just 2 chicks. We thought that perhaps they had finally got big enough to be able to evade the many hawks, owls and occasional eagle which we see in the area, but when we spotted them coming out of the tall grass this week, we saw that only 1 chick remained.

Its possible weather could have been a factor in a few cases and obviously predators have to eat, but it just seems a bit harsh. We are hoping the last chick will be luckier than the other 8.

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