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