As the wind and howling snow blasts away the last cobwebs of 2015, the IBA Program can look back on a successful year. There have been many things achieved and it would be impossible to name all of them, so instead I am going to share a few photo highlights. I am sure our volunteers will have many more interesting experiences and I hope that one or two might share those here at some point…
30th April – West and North Shoal Lake (part of the North, West and East Shoal Lakes IBA)
A first ever trip to the Shoal Lakes and an opportunity to meet with Donna Martin for the very first time. I was late meeting Donna but in my defence, I took the road along the west of West Shoal Lake and managed to get overwhelmed by the numbers of birds. Seriously huge! Donna had a good tour and managed to see among others, Marbled Godwit, American Avocet, Sandhill Crane, Horned Grebes, Broad-winged Hawk, 12 species of duck and Wilson’s Phalarope (a lifer and personal highlight).
The IBA Program celebrated International Migratory Bird Day at Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre. Starting with an early morning bird walk with members of the public (highlights included Least Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper and Harris’s Sparrow), I then got to meet our Caretakers for the first time as we had a meeting together. The day was finished off with a talk about IBAs and the superb eBird by Christian. A good day out all in all.
27 May – Lake Manitoba
Bonnie Chartier and I were very fortunate to be given permission to visit one IBA on private land. So fortunate alas that unfortunately I am not even sure I can release the name. Seriously, I’m not! We had an amazing day with this Brit being able to secure a bunch of lifers but even more impressive were the final numbers 72 species, 4092 individuals including 14 species of duck and 5 species of grebe. My personal highlights were the shorebirds, 16 species including lifers (Semipalmated Plover and Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, Short-billed Dowitcher, White-rumped Sandpiper and Stilt Sandpiper. We also managed to get a cracking view of a Virginia Rail wandering around in the open in broad daylight.
19th June – Pipestone (Click for blog)
Not strictly in the Southwestern Mixed-grass Prairie IBA but my first ever experience of a Sprague’s Pipit needs to be recorded in itself. Plus skunks, badgers and a host of other things. This was the start of a very successful weekend for the IBA Program. Oh and we even managed to stop in on Douglas Marsh, which was, er, marshy.
20th June – Southwestern Mixed-Grass Prairie (Click for blog)
Group photo copyright Carla Church. Ferruginous Hawk, Mule Deer and Great Horned Owls all copyright Tim Poole
From early morning Ferruginous Hawks to owls in a barn, a glimpse of a Lazuli Bunting and Loggerhead Shrikes, this was some day! Not forgetting our landowner workshop and a trip to Chicken Chef. A true rural Manitoba experience!
41 Sprague’s Pipits and over 230 Chestnut-collared Longspurs for our blitzers. Chest-collared Longspur and Sprague’s Pipit photos copyright Christian Artuso.
22nd June – Whitewater Lake (Click here for blog)
A good visit to this gem in prairies and abundant bird life to savour including Manitoba’s first recorded breeding colony of White-faced Ibis and a California Gull. It was wet, dreary, the roads were a mess. A bit like Scotland in fact…
7th July – Riverton Sandy Bar (Click here for blog)
Marshall and I joined Joanne Smith and her husband Dave on a boat trip out to monitor the birds at Hecla Bar. This proved that birdwatching from a boat isn’t as fun as it sounds. Good numbers of pelicans, cormorants, gulls and terns were present. I also got to see firsthand tracks from ATV users which are potentially a threat to the breeding birds at Riverton. All photos above copyright to Joanne Smith.
At risk of covering old ground and giving people sour grapes, this was a very fruitful day, in fact a peach of a day in the southwest. We even got to visit a pear of IBAs and caught a glimpse of a magnificent Prairie Falcon. Prairie Falcon and American Avocet photos copyright Christian Artuso.
Thanks again to all the volunteers who made these events a success. There were many highlights, not least the Surf and White-winged Scoters, Trumpeter Swans, a Yellow Rail and a bear (or was it a cow). In total we counted over 140 species and nearly 20,000 individual birds over the 2 days. A possibility for another go in May 2016……
Below are some of the photo highlights
Photos copyright Garry Budyk
Photos copyright Christian Artuso
Photos copyright Donna Martin
Photos copyright Bill Rideout
Photos copyright Jo Swartz
August 31st – Delta Marsh
The most Scottish of days yet, it made the earlier trip to Whitewater Lake appear dry by comparison. It was so soggy in fact it changed our blue car to an interesting shade of brown. I never got around to blogging this trip but thanks to Carrie Braden, the local coordinator for the Breeding Bird Atlas and a volunteer with the IBA Program for showing me around the entire IBA, which if you know Delta Marsh, you would know that is some undertaking. There were plenty of birds too, including gathering flocks of thousands of ducks readying for the coming journey south and large numbers of Western Grebes gathered in the channels.
Oh, and if you wish to know more about Delta Marsh or are in need of a last minute Christmas gift, why not purchase the new book ‘Delta: A Prairie Marsh and its People’ by among others, Glen Suggett from Manitoba Conservation. See http://www.mcnallyrobinson.com/9780921950516/gordon-goldsborough/delta?blnBKM=1#.VnMNFPkrLDc.
15th September – Grant’s Lake
Another trip which failed to make the blog, mainly because time just rushed away from me. Dave Nichol, our local caretaker was my tour guide this time. Given this is a lake we did this trip in style in a canoe. This is a globally important site for migrating Canada Geese but we appeared to have hit it a wee bit early. Instead there were large numbers of ducks and coots gathering for migration. And we didn’t get lost in the channels. Well, not too lost anyway.
Finally, a big thanks to everyone who has been involved in making 2015 a success for the Manitoba Important Bird Areas Program. Have a merry Christmas and happy New Year and and we look forward to more success in 2016.