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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Species list for Red Deer Point
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