Oak Hammock Marsh Summer Bird Census – June 26, 7am – 12pm

This information on the summer bird census was included in Oak Hammock Marshes latest email update:

Each year, the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre conducts a series of surveys to count some of the animals found at the Marsh. Some surveys are done daily, some weekly and others annually.

Surveys are a great way to explore the Marsh, learn more about wetlands and animals, and get involved in conservation efforts.

The annual Summer Bird Census helps determine which species of birds nest at the marsh and is a great way to improve bird observation skills.

Teams of volunteers, consisting of one expert and some novices, walk a section of the dike system, recording everything seen and heard. After the morning walk, a lunch will be served and prizes awarded.

There is a fee of $5 per participants plus admission.

Participants are asked to be at the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre no later than 6:45 a.m.

Call us at (204) 467-3300 to register before June 20. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity!

International Piping Plover Census

The following message was posted on Manitoba Birds Yahoo Group this evening by Ken Porteous from the Manitoba Piping Plover Recovery Program. 2016 is the international census of this species which formerly bred in some of Manitoba’s IBAs. If anyone sees a Piping Plover this summer in Manitoba, please contact Ken on the details below.

Good day,

As many of you are aware the international census began in 1991 and is conducted every five years. This year will mark the sixth census. It will take place from June 4-17. Although piping plovers have not been reported across Manitoba the past three years I am holding out hope that as I survey historical territories I will come across a pair or two. To help me, I would very much appreciate receiving any reports from the birding community. Please feel free to contact me with a direct reply (kcporteous@me.com) or phone me at 204-898-2654. Thank you.

Good birding,

Ken Porteous

Coordinator, Manitoba Piping Plover Recovery Program

Piping Plover_1

Piping Plover nesting in Manitoba. Photo copyright Christian Artuso

News Feature in the Weekly Express

The IBA Program was featured in this weeks Weekly Express, a publication in the Interlake area of Manitoba. Our very own Donna Martin was featured in a visit to North, West and East Shoal Lakes IBA, plus Program Coordinator Tim Poole, albeit form the safety of his desk in Winnipeg! See page 21 on the link – Express Weekly or scanned from its sister paper, the Stony Mountain Gazette.

And of course for anyone wondering about Shoal Lakes IBA, here is a photo of one of the rarer species you might encounter there courtesy of Donna

Least Bittern

Least Bittern copyright Donna Martin

IBA Protocol on eBird

It seems that birding in Manitoba’s IBAs is hotting up right now. This seems to be a good time to remind everyone out there who is entering data into eBird to make sure you enter it under the IBA Protocol. If you unsure whether the birds are in the IBA or not, no worries, still use the IBA Protocol as eBird will know whether the point at which you entered data is in the IBA or not.

One more thing, remember to enter on www.ebird.ca not .org. You cannot use the IBA Canada protocol under .org.  Unfortunately the eBird app connects to ebird.org and therefore any data entered on the app cannot be converted directly to the IBA Protocol. If you have any data which needs re-entering because it wasn’t entered under the protocol, we can do that for you – free of charge(:

Here is a link to the one pager created by the program on how to enter under the IBA Protocol – Using eBird for the Manitoba Important Bird Area program

Manitoba IBA on CBC

On Friday, Tim Poole and Christian Artuso were interviewed by CBC ahead of International Migratory Bird Day on Saturday at Oak Hammock. CBC news piece. It was also mentioned in the newscast and according to our Steering Committee member Tim Sopuck, during some of the banter in the morning show with Terry McLeod (thanks Tim).

We had a good morning out at the marsh, 19 people attending our early morning birdwalk and a small crowd joining us for our talk. The bird walk encountered 72 species including Eared, Horned and Pied-billed Grebe, four species of swallow and the highlight, a calling Virginia Rail. Here is the total list for the morning:

Species Name Species Count
Canada Goose 62
Wood Duck 1
Gadwall 20
American Wigeon 2
Mallard 104
Blue-winged Teal 12
Northern Shoveler 31
Northern Pintail 22
Green-winged Teal 6
Canvasback 34
Redhead 99
Ring-necked Duck 15
Lesser Scaup 18
Bufflehead 8
Common Goldeneye 6
Ruddy Duck 7
Common Loon 1
Pied-billed Grebe 6
Horned Grebe 2
Eared Grebe 4
Double-crested Cormorant 5
American White Pelican 107
Great Egret 2
Northern Harrier 3
Rough-legged Hawk 1
Virginia Rail 1
Sora 7
American Coot 20
Killdeer 11
Greater Yellowlegs 2
Willet 4
Lesser Yellowlegs 5
Semipalmated Sandpiper 6
peep sp. 5
Short-billed Dowitcher 1
Wilson’s Snipe 1
Franklin’s Gull 55
Ring-billed Gull 5
Forster’s Tern 1
Mourning Dove 2
Great Horned Owl 1
American Kestrel 1
Eastern Kingbird 1
Blue Jay 2
Black-billed Magpie 1
American Crow 3
Common Raven 12
Purple Martin 9
Tree Swallow 83
Bank Swallow 9
Barn Swallow 9
Cliff Swallow 5
Sedge Wren 2
Marsh Wren 1
American Robin 2
Palm Warbler 3
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Le Conte’s Sparrow 1
Chipping Sparrow 3
Clay-colored Sparrow 14
White-crowned Sparrow 9
Harris’s Sparrow 1
Savannah Sparrow 10
Song Sparrow 22
Swamp Sparrow 17
Red-winged Blackbird 75
Western Meadowlark 2
Yellow-headed Blackbird 35
Common Grackle 8
Brown-headed Cowbird 8
American Goldfinch 1
House Sparrow 2


Winnipegosis Trip Blog 4 –IBA Workshop

A couple of weekends back (May 7th), Christian Artuso of the Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas and Tim Poole, IBA Coordinator were invited to deliver a workshop on the IBA Program to local people in Winnipegosis. In this final blog, Tim describes the an evening trip to Red Deer Point near Winnipegosis and adjacent to the Sagemace and Coleman Bay Islands IBA.

Finally, after three blogs, the end is in sight! We finally managed to reach the point where we actually get to do what we came for, not just drop in on IBAs and look at birds! Firstly the background. Kate Basford, Chair of the RM of Mossey River contacted me some time ago to enquire about the local IBA. Following some thought, the local community were keen to increase development opportunities in the area and have been investigating  points of interest and activities such as bird watching, which would attract people to the area. A look at the internet an eventually connection with the IBA program. At this point the plan started to evolve as it became clear that the original IBA data had come from 1986. Sensing an opportunity to increase awareness of the important places for wildlife on their own doorstep and our program goal of recruiting local community caretakers, we decided to put on a workshop for the local community on the IBA Program and the birds of the area.

Winnipegosis itself has some great birds, including three besting platforms for Ospreys, Purple Martins, Barn Swallows and Buffleheads.


Osprey over the Mossey River in Winnipegosis. Photo copyright Tim Poole

10 people attended the indoor session in the Mossey River Inn. I gave a short 30 minute presentation on the IBA Program and the local IBAs and then following some discussions we left to look at some of the birds of Red Deer Point. Attendees included a couple of council members, a local fisherman with an interest in developing tourism tours in the area, a couple from near Dauphin and some local agricultural producers. This was a great mix and made for some lively discussions. In relation to future IBA involvement, a few points were:

  • Land-based monitoring could occur on Red Deer Point even though it’s not in the IBA
  • There is a possibility of including this in the local school curriculum
  • A local IBA lead was needed, and has hopefully come forward
  • It is possible to survey the IBA from boats and this would be the future plan
  • Monitoring the Lake Winnipegosis Islands needs to begin by identifying where birds are nesting on local islands. Some sort of survey of fishermen and boat users could identify where these places were.
  • It is critical if this program is to work to bring the local community with this concept

Many of the birds were still around on Red Deer Point but shorebird numbers were a little lower. New species for the area included Wilson’s Phalarope and pair of Common Loons. The highlight, and it was a wow moment, was the appearance of a Peregrine Falcon around the shorebirds. Swooping in, the Peregrine startled the flocks of shorebirds, all except the American Avocets who stayed alert but did not flush. The views afforded of the birds I think were very much appreciated and Christian was in his element, showing off the different species and the individual differences between species.


Attendees watching the shorebirds


Christian explaining something in the scope!


Lesser Yellowlegs and American Avocets on Red Deer Point. All photos copyright Tim Poole

Returning to the Inn, via seeing a pair of Horned Grebe on a small pool by the road, Christian showed everyone how to enter the data into eBird. A quick summary and that was that, but hopefully this will not be the end but the beginning of a new chapter with the Manitoba IBA Program. Thanks must go to Kate Basford for organising things in Winnipegosis and Christian for coming along to give his expert advice. Hopefully the community has enough to get started and we can help them along the way to becoming caretakers of the Sagemace and Coleman Islands Bay IBA.

Final trip list:

Species Count
Canada Goose 3
Gadwall 4
Mallard 7
Blue-winged Teal 12
Northern Shoveler 2
Green-winged Teal 1
Ring-necked Duck 2
Common Loon 2
Red-necked Grebe 12
American White Pelican 7
Great Blue Heron 2
Northern Harrier 1
Bald Eagle 3
Red-tailed Hawk 2
Sora 1
American Coot 5
Sandhill Crane 2
American Avocet 21
Semipalmated Plover 2
Killdeer 2
Willet 1
Lesser Yellowlegs 79
Marbled Godwit 4
Least Sandpiper 1
Semipalmated Sandpiper 3
Short-billed Dowitcher 2
Wilson’s Phalarope 2
Ring-billed Gull 3
Common Tern 3
American Kestrel 1
Peregrine Falcon 1
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 1
Common Raven 3
Tree Swallow 2
American Robin 4
Palm Warbler 1
Vesper Sparrow 1
Savannah Sparrow 3
Red-winged Blackbird 50
Yellow-headed Blackbird 20
Common Grackle 10

Winnipegosis Trip Blog 3 –Red Deer Point

A couple of weekends back (May 7th), Christian Artuso of the Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas and Tim Poole, IBA Coordinator were invited to deliver a workshop on the IBA Program to local people in Winnipegosis. In this third blog, Tim describes the an evening trip to Red Deer Point near Winnipegosis and adjacent to the Sagemace and Coleman Bay Islands IBA.

The greatest challenge with the IBA Program at times is actually being able to access the IBA. The Sagemace and Coleman Islands IBA is one such IBA. I suspect the original IBA boundary did not consider access for monitoring purposes for volunteer birders. The map below shows the location of the IBA in relation to the town of Winnipegosis, the Long Island and Long Island Bay IBA and Provincial Highways.

Sagemace location.jpg

The only access to the actual IBA is by boat, not surprising as the original citation states that the IBA was designated for:

‘Sugar Island, in Sagemace Bay, supports nationally significant numbers of breeding Great Blue Herons. This Great Blue Heron colony has been existence for at least three decades. A 1986 survey found 300 nests on Sugar Island, which is almost 1% of this species Canadian population. This number also meets the general congregatory IBA criteria for wading birds at the national level (500 birds). Large numbers of Double-crested Cormorants also breed on the Sagemace and Coleman Bay islands. In 1986, 975 nests were found on two islands in Coleman Bay, and 20 nests were found on an island in Sagemace Bay. Sagemace Bay is also a traditional molting and staging area for diving ducks, especially Redheads and, to a lesser degree, Canvasbacks.’

This presents us with a conundrum. We are a community-based initiative, aiming to involve local champions in the stewardship of globally important sites for birds and biodiversity but in some cases without the means to access those sites.How do we encourage people to participate in the program in the absence of easy access? The remainder of this blog shows how we decided to approach this issue at Winnipegosis and will hopefully encourage others to approach IBA monitoring in such a way.

In preparation for our Saturday morning workshop, Christian and I headed up to Red Deer Point just to the east of the IBA boundary to find where the best places to introduce some of the local bird species to attendees would be. Our local contact, Kate Basford, chair of council for the Mossey River Rural Municipality, had tipped us off beforehand that there were shorebirds and waterbirds in the area.

We found a few good spots and some great highlights. An old Ducks Unlimited project in the south became a goldmine for ducks, believe it or not! Ruddy Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Northern Pintails, Green-winged Teal, Canvasback, Redhead, Lesser Scaup and Buffleheads. Terrific spot.


Gadwall in flight over Red Deer Point. Photo by Tim Poole

Further north was definitely a highlight. The land opened up into some interesting areas of mudflat. With recent dry weather, the mudflats had hardened but in one single location, they opened up into a shallow pool. This area coincided with fantastic populations of shorebirds, including good numbers of American Avocet, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Willet, 116 Lesser Yellowlegs, Marbled Godwit, Least Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher and Long-billed Dowitcher. This was surprisingly early in Manitoba for this number and diversity of shorebird species, especially given how far north we were and the slow spring migration being encountered around Winnipeg.

Shorebirds on the Red Deer Point. Both photos copyright Christian Artuso

Continuing north, we continued to look for good birding spots


Until we eventually caused a wee bit of a commotion. Driving out of a wooded area into open wetland, something jumped up and began running away from us.


Raccoon on the run for cover. But from what? Photo by Tim Poole


This raccoon then startled something else which flew up to the edge of some dead cattails and stood stock still, neck extended and sharp beak pointing upwards as if it did not have a care in the world:

American Bittern_3998_Artuso

American Bittern, a species of heron in familiar ‘if I don’t move they won’t see me’ pose. Photo copyright Christian Artuso

So the end of a successful evening, 55 species recorded (listed below) and the forthcoming workshop to get our teeth into.

In relation to the start of this blog, the conclusion from our evening journey along a track within 1 or 2 kms of the IBA, was that this area had outstanding potential for people from the local community to monitor the local birdlife, whether breeding birds or migrants. Maybe in the future, if enough good data is forthcoming, we can even put forward a justification to extend the IBA boundary. The important thing to consider in any bird stewardship program is how we can take people close enough to the birds to appreciate them and to engage in citizen science.

Route here:

Sagemace route

Species list for Red Deer Point

Species Count
Canada Goose 30
Wood Duck 4
Gadwall 28
American Wigeon 2
Mallard 50
Blue-winged Teal 300
Northern Shoveler 400
Northern Pintail 10
Green-winged Teal 7
Canvasback 65
Redhead 35
Ring-necked Duck 6
Lesser Scaup 2
Bufflehead 4
Common Goldeneye 8
Ruddy Duck 2
Ruffed Grouse 1
Pied-billed Grebe 1
Red-necked Grebe 12
American Bittern 1
Great Blue Heron 3
Northern Harrier 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Sora 1
American Coot 30
Sandhill Crane 2
American Avocet 31
Semipalmated Plover 5
Killdeer 22
Willet 2
Lesser Yellowlegs 116
Marbled Godwit 9
Least Sandpiper 5
White-rumped Sandpiper 1
Pectoral Sandpiper 9
Semipalmated Sandpiper 4
Short-billed Dowitcher 11
Long-billed Dowitcher 1
Ring-billed Gull 10
Common Tern 2
American Kestrel 4
Eastern Phoebe 1
Black-billed Magpie 2
American Crow 2
Common Raven 1
American Robin 8
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Savannah Sparrow 3
Song Sparrow 2
Swamp Sparrow 7
Red-winged Blackbird 500
Western Meadowlark 2
Yellow-headed Blackbird 70
Brewer’s Blackbird 10
Common Grackle 5

Winnipegosis Trip Blog 2 – Dog Lake IBA and the Narrows

Last weekend (May 7th) Christian Artuso of the Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas and Tim Poole, IBA Coordinator were invited to deliver a workshop on the IBA Program to local people in Winnipegosis. In this first blog, Tim describes the second part of the journey to Winnipegosis and Dog Lake IBA.

Dog Lake IBA must be one of those unusual places where so many people must pass it and never realise it exists. It is just a few hundred metres from Highway 68, yet hidden away and with the excitement of the Narrows and the potential of a plethora of other birding spots along the route of your journey, then no wonder no one really ever stops to take a look. But here’s the thing, I have a feeling that Dog Lake might just be a wee bit of a birding gem for anyone who might take a look. Ok, it might lack the open shorelines for shorebirds, but it probably supports a multitude of waterbirds.

Dog Lake IBA

To access the site we had to peruse the map a little and use the backroads to locate the IBA shoreline. We accessed along two tracks, the one further south on the map below not being as interesting as the track further north.

dog lake

Dog Lake is a globally important spot for American White Pelican and nationally important for breeding Great Egret. Before heading down a track to the lake, we were able to spot our first egrets of the year.


Great Egret, note the feathered tail and green around the eye, a beautiful example of a bird in full breeding plumage

On arrival at the lake we were able to enter 42 species under the IBA Protocol, including over 2000 Ring-billed Gulls. To give an example (and blurry) impression of the densities of gulls breeding on the closest island, see this:


High concentrations of Ring-billed Gulls on Dog Lake

There were also plenty of other waterbirds including Western Grebes. Dog Lake currently has little to no monitoring from anybody and we would love to find volunteers to either caretaker the site or to visit occasionally to collect bird data. We would also like a volunteer to go out for a day with a GPS and map all the entry points to the IBA so future visitors can have a good idea of where to go. Please get in contact if that is something which might suit you.


Forsters Terns have also made their way back to Dog Lake and presumably would be nesting in the surrounding wetlands


There’s always a Red-winged Blackbird!

On to the Narrows, with Tundra Swans in a small bay just to the east. We carried onwards to Winnipegosis. The birding highlight was probably this Osprey with a rather large fish.


We also stopped off to look at an interesting pasture with huge concentrations of gulls and blackbirds and a first Wilsons Snipe of the day. All in all with two IBAs encountered already and a good number of birds, 63 species and over 5000 individuals in eBird.

Next stop, Sagemace and Coleman Bay Islands IBA

International Migratory Bird Day

Date: May 14, 2016
Time: 8:00 am  to  4:30 pm

Celebrate the diversity of migratory birds at Oak Hammock Marsh!

Oak Hammock Marsh, one of the best areas in North America to watch migratory birds.

  • 8:00 Birding walk with Tim Poole and Christian Artuso
  • 10:00 Presentation on Important Bird Areas (IBA) program and data entry into Ebird with Tim Poole and Christian Artuso
  • 11:00 Returning Manitoba Songbirds by Christian Artuso
  • 1:00 Birding by Ear Workshop with Paula Grieef ($5 per participants plus taxes)
  • 2:30 What to look for when buying Optics with Paula Grieef and Ricky Ryan (from Zeiss) (presentation followed by a walk outside to test some binoculars out)

International Migratory Bird Day sponsored by Zeiss.

Enter the draw to win a pair of Zeiss binoculars.

Winnipegosis trip blog 1 – Marshy Point IBA

Last weekend (May 7th) Christian Artuso of the Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas and Tim Poole, IBA Coordinator were invited to deliver a workshop on the IBA Program to local people in Winnipegosis. In this first blog, Tim describes the first part of the journey to Winnipegosis and a brief visit to Marshy Point IBA.

Late Friday morning Christian and I set out for  Winnipegosis. We had a rough plan of action for the day which involved checking out a couple of IBAs before hitting the Narrows. Marshy Point was the first of these IBA’s. Although mostly present on privately-owned land, parts of Marshy Point can be accessed by public road. The IBA is nestled on the eastern shore of Lake Manitoba west of Highway 6 between Oak Point and Lundar.


Most of the IBA is private and cannot be accessed by volunteers. However there are some possibilities for recording bird data if you do not mind leaving the highway for a short period. The IBA can effectively be split into three zones for monitoring purposes:


We did not access the IBA along the southern and central access routes but for completion, here are the access maps on Google Earth Images:

Slide5MB087-Marshy Point IBA Public Access.jpg

Further north we drove and then turned west off Highway 6, heading towards the hatchery road. The fish hatchery on Lake Manitoba is within the IBA and our ultimate destination was the parking area where provincial fisheries staff take the boat across to the hatchery. The route we took can be seen from our GPS track below:

Marshy Point access.jpg

In total we were able to record 36 species in and around the IBA, including our first shorebirds of the day, two Wilson’s Phalaropes in a small pool. In addition there was a group of 16 Lesser Yellowlegs among the cattails and 13 species of waterfowl. It would be interesting given time to explore the other areas on the maps above to determine where best for birds in the accessible part of the IBA. There were also American White Pelicans and a Great Blue Heron in flight, plus a failed attempt at photographing Gadwalls with their white speculum showing.


Onwards we headed towards the Narrows, next stop, Dog Lake IBA.