A Saturday Visit to Langruth Harvest Festival and the Langruth-RM of Lakeview IBA

Last Saturday, September 23rd, we were invited to participate in the Langruth Harvest Festival. Langruth is located on the west side of Lake Manitoba, strategically positioned between 3 IBAs, Langruth-RM of Lakeview (or Big Grass Marsh), Sandy Bay Marsh and Kinosota-Leifur.

An early arrival gave ample opportunity to drive PR265 which cuts through the middle of the IBA. Among the highlights was a late Red-headed Woodpecker and several thousand Snow Geese.

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A few larger flocks of Snow Goose were encountered in the IBA on Saturday morning. Copyright Tim Poole

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White and blue morph Snow Geese were present at the weekend. Copyright Tim Poole

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The town greeter. Copyright Tim Poole

Driving into Langruth itself is always a birdy experience. The marsh and the local IBA are a significant part of this community which considers itself the ‘birding capital of Manitoba’. Greeting visitors driving in on the highway to the south is a giant Great Blue Heron.

Further exploration reveals that the heron is not the only feature of the IBA present in the town. Driving back in from the west you come across a rock. But not just any old rock. This one has a plaque on the front with a tribute to the marsh. Reading it (reproduced below) we find that Big Grass Marsh was Ducks Unlimited’s first ever wetland conservation project back in 1938. The fact that the marsh is now under the largest conservation agreement in conservation history thanks to donations of land from the RM’s of Westbourne and Lakeview (and negotiated by our partners at MHHC) merely adds to the historical and biological significance of this IBA. On the side of the memorial stone is a map of the marsh showing the original control structure and the main road access.

All photos of the Big Grass Marsh Memorial Stone copyright Tim Poole.

By now it was time to do some work and off to the Langruth rink for the fair. A steady stream of people would come to our tables. We did a special pine cone bird feeder craft to provide an opportunity to speak with local children about why birds migrate and the need for a steady supply of food in winter for those birds which do not migrate. On the other side we provide information and resources for adults on the local IBAs, not just Big Grass Marsh but Sandy Bay Marshes and Kinosota-Leifur as well. We also attempted a new approach to getting more local people involved in monitoring the IBAs by asking people to send us sightings of particular species: Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese for Big Grass Marsh; Western Grebe for Sandy Bay Marshes and; Red-headed Woodpecker for Kinosota-Leifur. This is already bearing fruit with Paul reporting 125 Sandhill Cranes just last night. Thanks Paul!

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Our stall. Copyright Tim Poole

Thank you to the Langruth Harvest Fair for the invitation, especially Michelle Teichroeb who has been very helpful in providing information before and during the festival and even took a couple of IBA signs away to be put up locally.

Finally, here is the short bird list from the Langruth-RM of Lakeview IBA

Snow Goose 2539
Ross’s Goose 10
Canada Goose 44
Northern Shoveler 2
Mallard 5
Northern Pintail 19
Green-winged Teal 7
Great Blue Heron 3
Northern Harrier 2
Red-tailed Hawk 3
Greater Yellowlegs 2
Lesser Yellowlegs 4
Mourning Dove 1
Red-headed Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 17
Common Raven 2
Marsh Wren 2
European Starling 50
Western Meadowlark 1
Common Grackle 150
Pine Siskin 20

Quick Report From Weekend Bird Walk at Delta Marsh

Thanks to the folk at the Fort La Reine Museum we had a great morning out at Delta Marsh on Saturday. We had 5 people join us including the former Delta Marsh Manager, Dr Bob Jones, a huge reservoir of knowledge of the history and biology of this area.

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Birding on Delta Beach. Photo copyright Tim Poole

We started off checking for shorebirds at a creek west of the diversion, the site of several thousand migrating shorebirds last August. On this occasion we were limited to a few dozen Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs and large numbers of ducks.

Onwards we headed towards Delta Beach, checking around the diversion but seeing very little of note from the road. Along the road north towards the beach John Hays spotted some movement and eventually we had brief glimpses of 3 Black-bellied Plover flying away. At the Delta Marsh welcome sign there were good numbers of Western Grebe, over 100 in total, and several species of duck. We moved on towards the beach. Following reports of water surges raising the lake levels by up to 5m earlier in the week, it was apparent that there was limited beach available for birds. The advantage of this however was that the shorebirds and miscellaneous gulls were restricted to fingers of beach close to the shore. A mixed flock of Semipalmated Plover (30), Sanderling (12) and Least Sandpiper (2) were certainly the highlight. Behind on the ridge Eastern Phoebe, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Palm Warbler foraged on the dead wood for bugs and swallows battled strong winds seeking the final tasty morsels available before they embark on their long migration.

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Delta Beach. Copyright Tim Poole

Finally we headed to the Delta Waterfowl Trail on the south of the beach ridge. Here again were large numbers of ducks, mainly Mallards, Northern Pintail, American Widgeon and Blue-winged Teal. Bob Jones shared some of the history of the marsh and the different groups involved. The final highlight were flocks of Sandhill Cranes flying south, their wonderful sights and sounds, a clear sign that fall is well and truly upon us.

All Sandhill Crane images copyright Tim Poole

Thanks to the small but knowledgeable group who joined us on Saturday and to Fort La Reine Museum. Delta Marsh is a great area to explore with many wonderful birds to find. We will return here again in 2018!

Sandy Bar Weed Pull #2 Sept. 29th, 2017

On Friday September 29th we are planning another weed pull at Important Bird and Biodiversity Area MB091 Riverton Sandy Bar.

We had an excellent turnout on Aug. 17th with 36 volunteers filling 66 bags of invasive sweet clover, burdock and willow. Because the sweet clover requires regular removal we plan to meet at 9:00 am on September the 29th to  pull more bags of the stuff. Looking far into the future, we also hope to do another pull in late April or early May 2018.

We are looking forward to having Don Bodnarus’s high school class from Riverton Collegiate join us on the 29th as well. It’ll be great to get youth from the community involved.

The purpose of this Weed Pull is to once again clear an area of Sandy Bar to make the habitat more attractive to Piping Plover. This shorebird species last nested at Sandy Bar in 2004. With low lake levels and a large open sandy area we hope that the Piping Plover may once again make an appearance at Sandy Bar.

We’ll also be doing a bit of Birding  and recording the species we see and hear while we’re pulling weeds. It would be ideal if we could pull weeds for 2-3 hours and then walk to the end of the sand bar with binos and scopes to show birders and nonbirders some of the bird species that stop over at Sandy Bar as they continue their fall migration south to areas as far away South America. On September 30th 2016 we saw such species as Rusty Blackbird, Smith Longspur, Lapland Longspur, American Pipit, Horned Lark and American Golden Plover.

There is also a possibility that we may be able to show the volunteers how to enter our bird sightings into eBird under the IBA Protocol.

It would be great to have you join us again on the 29th. Please feel free to forward this email to others who may be interested in pulling weeds, meeting others and learning about the fall migrating birds at Sandy Bar.

More details will be emailed out as we get closer to the date.

Thanks!

Joanne Smith

Sandy Bar Weed Picking Volunteers (1)

Photo copyright Dries Desender

Footnote – please email Tim Poole, iba@naturemanitoba.ca for more details