Whitewater Lake ISS Trip with Lynnea Parker and Randy Mooi

Yesterday, May 29th, Randy Mooi, Curator of Zoology at the Manitoba Museum, and Lynnea Parker headed to Whitewater Lake to carry out International Shorebird Survey (ISS) transects. The day was pretty cloudy, smoke from Alberta creating dull, Mordor-like skies. Randy commented as follows:

‘Not the most fantastic day to be at Whitewater, but decent shorebird numbers of a variety of species. Shocking to have no ibis, and pretty much as weird to see only two coots! Grebes were pretty uncommon.’

Shorebirds 2 Whitewater east end May 29 2019 red

Ashen skies, and distant shorebirds, the changing face of Whitewater Lake? Copyright Randy Mooi

With a focus on shorebirds, there were plenty of undercounts of other groups. But the lack of coots, grebes and herons/ibises has also been noted by other birders this year. Strange! In total, they counted 69 species and 2,206 individuals. Of these, there were 18 species of shorebird, and 1,246 individuals, a little over half of all birds counted.

At least this plunging american Avocet gave some light relief. It almost looks a bit giraffe-like (all photos copyright Randy Mooi).

There was not much of an east-west split, although due to road conditions, part of the east was not covered.  Lynnea suspected that concentrations were highest in the northeast corner. Interestingly, and in sharp contrast, this area was almost devoid of water during our workshop on the 18th. Semipalmated Sandpiper was the most abundant species (464), with the next being, perhaps surprisingly, American Golden Plover. There were zero American Golden Plover and Baird’s Sandpiper on the 18th. On this occasion there were no dowitchers. This goes to show the seasonal changes being noted, something that ISS was established to examine.

Golden Plover 2 cropped Whitewater May 29 2019

Gorgeous flock of American Golden Plovers. Copyright Randy Mooi

Thank you to Lynnea and Randy for completing these surveys. We would also like to thank the Manitoba Museum for donating Randy’s time to help, and Canada Summer Jobs for funding Lynnea’s work in southwestern Manitoba this summer (there will be more to come on this).

We still need to do one more visit next week to the lake. If you are interested in helping out we would love to hear from you. Our long-term vision is that we would be able to get visiting groups of birders to run the ISS routes when they are at the lake – the routes cover some of the best places for birding anyway!

And, as ever, here are the results (please note, the 3 zones, east, west and Sexton’s are covered in the maps on this page).

Species Name Eastern ISS Routes Western ISS Route Sexton’s Island ISS Stop TOTAL
Snow Goose 0 36 0 36
Canada Goose 0 41 0 41
Blue-winged Teal 5 20 2 27
Northern Shoveler 2 94 3 99
Gadwall 4 48 2 54
American Wigeon 0 1 0 1
Mallard 2 112 2 116
Northern Pintail 0 6 0 6
Green-winged Teal 0 2 0 2
Lesser Scaup 0 40 0 40
Bufflehead 0 2 0 2
Ruddy Duck 0 1 0 1
Horned Grebe 0 1 0 1
Eared Grebe 0 3 0 3
Western Grebe 0 21 0 21
Mourning Dove 2 2 0 4
Sora 2 1 0 3
American Coot 2 1 0 3
American Avocet 11 52 2 65
Black-bellied Plover 1 2 0 3
American Golden-Plover 24 124 0 148
Killdeer 12 21 1 34
Marbled Godwit 1 15 1 17
Ruddy Turnstone 0 3 0 3
Stilt Sandpiper 4 75 0 79
Sanderling 20 0 0 20
Baird’s Sandpiper 60 53 17 130
Least Sandpiper 0 4 5 9
White-rumped Sandpiper 120 2 0 122
Pectoral Sandpiper 0 3 0 3
Semipalmated Sandpiper 250 210 4 464
Wilson’s Phalarope 5 16 2 23
Red-necked Phalarope 17 85 3 105
Spotted Sandpiper 0 2 0 2
Willet 5 10 3 18
Lesser Yellowlegs 0 1 0 1
Franklin’s Gull 29 0 0 29
Ring-billed Gull 25 0 0 25
Black Tern 1 0 0 1
Forster’s Tern 11 24 11 46
Double-crested Cormorant 0 6 0 6
American White Pelican 2 93 0 95
Great Egret 0 0 14 14
Turkey Vulture 1 0 0 1
Northern Harrier 2 1 1 4
Red-tailed Hawk 0 1 1 2
falcon sp. 0 1 0 1
Eastern Kingbird 0 6 0 6
Black-billed Magpie 1 0 0 1
Horned Lark 1 5 0 6
Barn Swallow 0 1 0 1
Cliff Swallow 0 3 0 3
Sedge Wren 6 9 0 15
American Robin 2 1 0 3
European Starling 0 3 0 3
American Goldfinch 2 0 0 2
Clay-colored Sparrow 1 0 0 1
Nelson’s Sparrow 1 0 0 1
Savannah Sparrow 12 4 1 17
Song Sparrow 5 1 2 8
Swamp Sparrow 1 0 0 1
Yellow-headed Blackbird 3 79 X 82+
Bobolink 1 0 0 1
Western Meadowlark 1 2 0 3
Red-winged Blackbird 42 X X 42+
Brown-headed Cowbird 7 14 0 21
Brewer’s Blackbird 6 X 0 6+
Common Grackle 7 43 0 50
Common Yellowthroat 3 0 0 3
Golden Plover 2 crop Whitewater May 29 2019

Close-up of the American Golden Plovers. Copyright Randy Mooi

Brandon Shorebird Workshop

On May 17th and 18th, Tim Poole and Christian Artuso delivered a Shorebird Workshop to the new Brandon Birders Group. On the evening of the 17th, we gave a presentation on shorebird identification to the group in a room at Brandon University. The room was donated for free for the evening, so special thanks to the folk at the University Geography Department.

On the morning of the 18th, we were joined by a group of 9 people for a trip to Whitewater Lake. The plan was to find some large groups of shorebirds around the lake and help them to identify the various species in the field, looking specifically at field marks.

When selecting dates for birding events, there is always an aspect of cross your fingers, hoping that it’s not bad weather. Well, we picked a day which was cold and windy, and pretty unpleasant to be outside. We did though plough on, knowing that the shorebirds would still be present in the area.

Christian and I (Tim) had been out at Oak Lake the previous day, completing the ISS survey for this IBA. On the way back to Brandon we were again astounded to see thousands of geese at Deleau, just outside the boundary of the Oak Lake and Plum Lakes IBA. Included in the mass of geese were over 1,000 Ross’s Geese, a significant spring concentration for southern Manitoba. There were also hundreds of geese on the way into Whitewater from Highway 10.

Ross's Goose_8254c_Snow Goose

Spot the smaller Ross’s Geese in the foreground, and compare with the larger Snow Geese behind. Copyright Christian Artuso

Starting at the east end at 19N (for a map of the IBA, click here), we encountered the unexpected, a vast area of open mud, small pools of water, and distant shoreline. This was in stark contrast to fall 2018. Back then, this area is was covered in shallow water and mudflats, ideal habitat for shorebirds. We could make out some distant Black-bellied Plover. Most impressively, Christian spotted a group of shorebirds flying directly towards us. The unmistakable round, russet forms of 13 Red Knots were a definite highlight of the day, everyone managing to get great views in their binoculars as they flew past.

shroebird workshop at Sexrtons_20190518_103201

Watching shorebirds at Sexton’s and trying to stay warm. Copyright Christian Artuso

We carried on along 20N towards the west. At one stage we picked out a vast flock of Snow Geese, over 19,000 splayed across the dull grey skyline. Along the road we also had Ross’s Goose and Greater White-fronted Goose. We also saw our only White-faced Ibis.

Ross's Goose_8460_Snow Goose_Artuso

There were clouds of Snow Geese at Whitewater on the day. Copyright Christian Artuso

Sexton’s Point had a few shorebirds to show, the highlight being a Hudsonian Godwit. We were able to show everyone the distinctly darker plumage and rufous chest. Another highlight was a Clark’s Grebe.

American Avocet_8771_Artuso

The unmistakable blue legs, salmon head and upcurved beak of an American Avocet. Copyright Christian Artuso.

At this point we still had not seen the large groups of shorebirds that we were expecting. We eventually did find one such group along the western edge of the lake.

shorebird fiock_9006_REKN_STSA_LESA_MAGO_Artuso

Mixed flock of shorebirds. Copyright Christian Artuso

Least Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Dunlin, Pectoral Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper and Red-necked Phalarope were among the shorebirds foraging in a small wetland next to the road.


Shorebirds feeding along the shoreline, note how grey it is! Copyright Tim Poole

We were able to use the scopes to really zoom in and show people the intricate details. For example, we showed everyone how to distinguish Least Sandpiper from the White-rumped Sandpiper (a lack of Semipalmated and Baird’s made this a lot easier). We asked everyone to focus first on the wing length versus tail length. Then we zoned in on other features (plumage, bill shape and length, leg colour, etc).

Least Sandpiper_8160_Artuso

Least Sandpiper. note that the primary feathers on the wings reach the same point on this bird as the tip of the tail feathers. This is typical of Least and Semipalmated. Note the yellow legs, brown plumage and decurved beak, all distinguishing features when compared with with Semipalmated Sandpiper. Copyright Christian Artuso


Showing how cold we were, everyone sheltering behind the Atlas truck and sitting down. Copyright Tim Poole

There were small numbers of dowitchers mixed in with the general shorebird flocks. At this point, Whitewater Lake IBA Caretaker, Gillian Richards identified that one of these birds was a Long-billed Dowitcher. This was a great spot! We spent some time focusing on the differences between neighbouring Short-billed Dowitchers and the single Long-billed Dowitcher. The first thing that Gillian had noticed was that the flanks of the Long-billed were barred rather than spotted. The plumage was also darker red versus the salmon plumage of the Short-billed. Finally, the clincher was the contrast on the scapular and back feathers. In the case of the Long-billed, these have white tips, and the case of the Short-billed, they have buff tips. Christian very helpfully has provided a contrast collection of his photos from the day so you can really see what we are talking about!

Long-billed versus Short-billed Dowitcher comparison.jpg

Composite images by Christian Artuso

At this point, cold and wind battered, we headed in different directions. We hope everyone had a good trip, and learnt more about shorebirds, and we hope to do this again soon in eastern Manitoba!

While doing this, we completed the International Shorebird Survey route for west Whitewater Lake. If you would like to find out more about our involvement in this, and would like to contribute to shorebird monitoring, first take a look at this blog. There you will find maps. We would love to hear from you of course if you are interested in finding out more. Email us at iba@naturemanitoba.ca.

We are also providing links to some documents and resources which might prove useful to you as you learn more about shorebird identification.

IBA Shorebird Photo Identification Card (email if you would like us to mail you a laminated copy)

Copy of Christians’ shorebird presentation and notes

Christian’s shorebird notes handout

An old IBA blitz blog with some good info on fall identification of dowitchers

Christian’s Dowitcher notes

Surfbirds excellent Dowitcher comparison

Thank you to Glennis, Gillian and Alex for organising the workshop. We would also like to pass on thanks to our funders, notably the Baillie Fund, Enbridge and Tundra Oil and Gas for providing funds for our attendance.

Apart from Snow Geese, the most impressive numbers were of Least Sandpipers, and Stilt Sandpipers. Here is the eBird summary of the days birding.

Species Name Species Count
Snow Goose 22,154
Ross’s Goose 2
Greater White-fronted Goose 14
Canada Goose 180
Tundra Swan 31
Blue-winged Teal 66
Northern Shoveler 130
Gadwall 121
American Wigeon 6
Mallard 121
Northern Pintail 16
Green-winged Teal 3
Canvasback 43
Redhead 10
Ring-necked Duck 9
Lesser Scaup 6
Sharp-tailed Grouse 1
Red-necked Grebe 1
Eared Grebe 8
Western Grebe 95
Clark’s Grebe 1
Rock Pigeon 3
Eurasian Collared-Dove 1
Mourning Dove 4
American Coot 2
American Avocet 74
Black-bellied Plover 4
Semipalmated Plover 9
Killdeer 15
Upland Sandpiper 2
Hudsonian Godwit 1
Marbled Godwit 27
Red Knot 13
Stilt Sandpiper 183
Dunlin 9
Baird’s Sandpiper 5
Least Sandpiper 746
White-rumped Sandpiper 9
Pectoral Sandpiper 1
Semipalmated Sandpiper 5
Short-billed Dowitcher 18
Long-billed Dowitcher 1
Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher 1
Wilson’s Phalarope 48
Red-necked Phalarope 74
Spotted Sandpiper 1
Willet 15
Lesser Yellowlegs 12
shorebird sp. 500
Franklin’s Gull 441
Forster’s Tern 57
Double-crested Cormorant 2
American White Pelican 8
Great Egret 3
White-faced Ibis 1
Turkey Vulture 1
Northern Harrier 3
Red-tailed Hawk 3
Great Horned Owl 1
Peregrine Falcon 1
Common Raven 3
Horned Lark 1
Tree Swallow 4
Barn Swallow 13
Marsh Wren 1
American Robin 6
European Starling 3
American Pipit 1
Vesper Sparrow 2
Savannah Sparrow 9
Yellow-headed Blackbird 83
Bobolink 3
Western Meadowlark 7
Red-winged Blackbird 105
Brown-headed Cowbird 2
Common Grackle 36
Northern Waterthrush 1
Yellow Warbler 1
Palm Warbler 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
House Sparrow 2

Thank you Tundra Oil and Gas!

The Manitoba IBA Program was delighted to receive a donation from Tundra Oil and Gas, part of the Richardson Foundation. The donation of $10,000 will go towards our outreach work in southwestern Manitoba, especailly around the Southwestern Manitoba Mixed-grass Prairie IBA, Oak Lake and Plum Lake IBA, and Whitewater Lake IBA.

Our Coordinator, Tim Poole was at hand to collect the cheque in Oak Lake from Chris Masson. The story was also featured in the Virden Empire Advance.

Thank you for your contribution to our continued work!


Tim (on left) receiving the cheque from Tundra Oil and Gas employee Chris Masson

More details – Shorebird Workshop,Friday 17 and Saturday 18 May, Brandon and Whitewater Lake

Posted on behalf with, and in partnership with the Brandon Birders

Dear Birders,

We are pleased to offer a Shorebird Identification Workshop for the upcoming weekend of May 17th and 18th. The Workshop is designed to help improve shorebird identification skills, and further understanding of the biology of these fascinating birds. Birders of all skill levels are welcome, whether you are part of an organized effort to monitor shorebirds for conservation efforts or just enjoy watching shorebirds in the field. The Workshop is organized in two parts (details set out below). You can attend one of the events or both if you choose.

Friday, May 17th – Shorebird biology and identification session with Tim Poole and Christian Artuso from Manitoba’s Important Birds Area Program. The session will take place at Brandon University in the Brodie Building, Room 3-47 (third floor) from 7-9 pm. Tim and Christian will look at the different shorebirds found in Manitoba, discuss their biology, and talk about the best field marks to identify them.
The doors to the Brodie Building will be unlocked for us between 6:30-7:15 pm. Please be prompt, as the doors will shut after 7:15pm. Free parking is available on the street outside the building or in Lot 10 opposite. The Brodie Building is the first building on the right as you turn West onto Louise Ave from 18th St.  https://www.google.com/maps/place/49°50’37.8″N+99°57’45.7″W

Saturday, May 18th – Field trip to look at shorebirds in the Whitewater Lake IBA with Gillian Richards, Christian Artuso and Tim Poole. The purpose of this trip is to look at the various shorebirds (and other birds) in the field, see identification field marks, learn how to count flocks, and how to monitor these declining birds in their natural habitats.

Participants who wish to car pool from Brandon can meet at Glennis’ house (722 21st St.) at 7:30 am. Parking is on the street or in the driveway.

All participants will meet outside the Bordertown Restaurant and Lounge in Boissevain at 8:30 am. Please note that coffee and snacks will be provided in Boissevain, but bring everything you will need for several hours in the field, including;

  • Binoculars, spotting scope (if you have one)
  • Suitable clothing and footwear (rubber boots might be a good idea), remember it might rain…
  • Water, and a lunch,
  • Insect repellent (yes, the ticks are out), sunscreen and/or a hat.

We don’t expect that much walking will be involved. We estimate that we will finish by 2:00 pm at Whitewater at the latest.

If you plan to attend, please email the Brandon Birders at brandonbirders@gmail.com.

We look forward to seeing you there.
Brandon Birders


Douglas Marsh IBA

It was notable yesterday that the vegetation at Douglas Marsh might be changing. In recent years, the areas that folk use to listen for Yellow Rails, along PR340, has been dominated by tall cattails. Right now it looks like the sedges may be taking over again.

If this is the case, there should be some good listening opportunities for rails this year!

Just be careful of the road (maybe wear a high visibility vest).

Oak Lake and Plum Lakes IBA and Deleau

Following a fun morning workshop at Oak Lake Community School yesterday (May 9th), I (Tim), took a quick drive south through the Oak Lake and Plum Lakes IBA. There were plenty of waterfowl in the wetlands north and east of the Oak Lake Resort, including a few Tundra Swan. Shorebird numbers were few. In my view, the water levels were a bit too high, and the area of exposed wet mud too low for these birds. I did check out some of our shorebird monitoring route, and found around 30 American Avocets, a Solitary Sandpiper, Wilson’s Phalarope and plenty of yellowlegs.


Tundra Swans at Oak Lake and Plum Lakes IBA. Copyright Tim Poole

Here are the counts from quick outing.

Species Count
Snow Goose 3
Canada Goose 32
Tundra Swan 16
Wood Duck 2
Blue-winged Teal 39
Northern Shoveler 20
Gadwall 24
American Wigeon 2
Mallard 40
Green-winged Teal 2
Canvasback 14
Redhead 4
Ring-necked Duck 16
Greater Scaup 2
Lesser Scaup 50
Bufflehead 8
Hooded Merganser 12
Ruddy Duck 2
Pied-billed Grebe 4
Red-necked Grebe 13
Eared Grebe 2
Mourning Dove 4
American Coot 2
American Avocet 28
Killdeer 5
Wilson’s Phalarope 1
Solitary Sandpiper 1
Greater Yellowlegs 1
Lesser Yellowlegs 16
Franklin’s Gull 30
Double-crested Cormorant 1
American White Pelican 6
Turkey Vulture 1
Northern Harrier 1
Swainson’s Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Northern Flicker 2
American Kestrel 4
Blue Jay 1
Black-billed Magpie 2
American Crow 2
Common Raven 1
Purple Martin 1
Tree Swallow 40
Black-capped Chickadee 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Marsh Wren 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Swainson’s Thrush 1
American Robin 8
European Starling 2
Chipping Sparrow 4
Dark-eyed Junco 1
White-crowned Sparrow 2
White-throated Sparrow 1
Savannah Sparrow 12
Swamp Sparrow 4
Yellow-headed Blackbird 400
Western Meadowlark 10
Red-winged Blackbird 200
Brown-headed Cowbird 2
Brewer’s Blackbird 30
Common Grackle 40
Orange-crowned Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 6
House Sparrow 12

Heading back towards Winnipeg on Highway 2, I came across several thousand geese at the bend in the highway east of Deleau. In total, I estimated at least 6,000 geese, primarily Snows. in among the Snows were some smaller white morph Ross’s and Greater White-fronted (I had down around 100 of this species). There were also Cakling Geese mixed in with the Canada’s


Some of the nearly 5000 Snow Goose at Deleau. Copyright Tim Poole


Launching Snow Geese. Copyright Tim Poole


A number of Greater White-fronted Geese were dotted around the area. Copyright Tim Poole

So a great chance to see all five typical Manitoba spring migrating geese if you are in the area. There were also a few more shorebirds, including Willet and Marbled Godwit in this spot.


Preening Willet. Copyright Tim Poole

This corner is currently just outside the IBA boundary. On yesterdays evidence, the boundary might need a rethink!

First IBA Blitz of the Season – Report from North, West and East Shoal Lakes on May 4th

Manitoba IBA Program Coordinator, Tim Poole provide a report on the opening blitz of 2019. The blitz occurred at the North, West and East Shoal Lakes IBA.

Shoal Lakes is an IBA which always delivers impressive numbers of birds. On a personal level it provides memories of seeing numerous lifers after moving to Canada in 2014, including American Avocet, Wilson’s Phalarope, Marbled Godwit and Sandhill Crane. The attraction of this IBA lies in the combination of mixed habitat and land-use. One would expect to find birds on the open lake, but the mix of wetlands, aspen parkland and grassland provides ample opportunity to find a good total number of species.


Can you find where the Lesser Yellowlegs is standing? These shallow wetlands just north of West Shoal Lake will soon provide ideal stopover habitat for shorebirds. Copyright Tim Poole

We decided to go with May 4th for our blitz this time. This was all part of a cunning plan to join up with Nature Manitoba, who were organising a birding trip to West Shoal Lake and Delta Marsh. They would therefore cover a good portion of West Shoal Lake during teh blitz. We decided this approach would be advantageous, introducing more people to the IBA Program, and helping to fit an event in during the hectic month of May. Garry Budyk, the Nature Manitoba trip leader was as ever, only too happy to contribute.

So we had four groups, Nature Manitoba at West Shoal Lake, Group 1 in the north, Group 2 in the east, and Group 3 (not 4 as in the map below) in the west.

May 2019 Shoal Lakes IBA blitz - Overview of all groups.jpg

Nature Manitoba, led ably by Garry, was a sprawling mass of 18 people. Participants, in no specific order, were Garry, Rudolf, John, Gene, Frank, Jacquie, Annie, Mike, Tami, Ward, Marlene, James, Rob, Lori-Anne, Betsy, Jo, Cathy and Al. Anyone familiar with Manitoba birding will know that there is some serious birding experience in that trip! In total they observed 59 species, including 95 Tundra Swans and 2 Trumpeter’s. They also had the sole Short-billed Dowitcher of the day. Two Northern Waterthrush were probably the passerine highlight.

TRSW Joanne Smith.jpg

The impressive Trumpeter Swans were spotted in a few places in the IBA. Copyright Joanne Smith

Group 1, our northern team consisted of Bonnie, Joanne, Matt and Lynnea. I am sure Bonnie drove them to find every bird possible, as is her way! In total they found 67 species. Shorebird numbers were on the low side here, as with all groups. I suspect we are still a wee bit early for seeing large concentrations of these birds. A pair of Willet were the shorebird highlight for this group.

Willets, copyright Joanne Smith

They did come across this rather impressive tree of Tree Swallows.

TRES Joanne Smith

Tree Swallows gathering. Copyright Joanne Smith

A lone Snow Bunting was possibly the more unusual bird of their morning.

Group 2 covering the east of the IBA were pretty blown out when we saw them at lunchtime, a strong wind gusted from west to east across the lake, making viewing difficult. The team of Lewis, Donna, Ian and Chris located that largest groups of swans for the day, 175 Tundra in total. They also picked out a sole, lonesome Greater White-fronted Goose within a flock of swans.


Tundra Swans with a lone Greater White-fronted Goose. There appeared to be more ice in the east than elsewhere. Copyright Donna Danyluk

Their section also covered large areas of aspen parkland, which uncovered hidden gems, including Yellow Warbler and a Black and White Warbler. Another highlight were four Marbled Godwits – this gorgeous shorebird is always a highlight when you come across it! In toal, this group found 59 species. Special mention to Ian for being the hardy soul trying to locate birds bobbing up and down int he waves on East Shoal Lake as the wind blasted him in the face.

I was fortunate to be joined by two first time blitzers in group 3. It was great to finally bird with Gary, who also took on the important role of team scribe. Jon was also new for our events and demonstrated his enthusiasm and skill throughout the morning. We took on the newly repaired PR415, and what a lovely road it was, far better than any other gravel road in the area in fact! For those unfamilar with this area, PR415 cuts through the centre of the IBA, splitting North Shoal Lake from West and East Shoal Lake. In around 2012, the road was completely underwater as the three component parts of the IBA effectively became Shoal Lake. In 2015, we did our first blitz here, and Christian walked it (see the report and some photos of the road here). Much of this road was effectively wetland. By August 2018, it was clear that with a few repairs, the road could be driven, and over the winter, the province did just that, grading the new road. One road allowance was especially fun…


Quality road allowance on the north of West Shoal Lake. Copyright Tim Poole

As for birds, we detected 68 species. We had excellent views of Western Grebe along PR415, 63 in total. I was lucky enough to see the ‘walk on water’ courtship dance. We had Horned, Pied-billed and Red-necked Grebe as well, all along the 415.

RNGR Joanne Smith

Red-necked Grebe. Copyright Joanne Smith

There was also a colony of Franklin’s Gull in this area, with over 200 birds counted at one stage. American White Pelicans were present and seem to be gathering to breed somewhere around West Shoal Lake. There were numerous diving ducks, including both species of scaup sheltering in bays. We also had good views of Orange-crowned Warbler and managed a pretty impressive 4 thrush species, all in aspen parkland in the Harperville area.

SWTH Joanne Smith

Swainson’s Thrush, copyright Joanne Smith

Given the blustery conditions, we had a pretty successful day out, and the three non-nature Manitoba groups met to recuperate at our regular lunch spot, Rosie’s in Inwood. One of the interesting contrasts was the notable lack of lake ice. Compared to 2018, the ice has really shifted. This changed the dynamic of the count. Often the ice melting outwards from the shore can leave pockets of open water, and very . Without this, it meant that the birds were likely scattered over a much wider area, leading to lower counts than 2018.

MERL Joanne Smith

Merlin. Copyright Joanne Smith

In total we counted over 4000 birds and 100 species were noted. Although there were no IBA triggers, we did find good numbers of Tundra Swan (286), Lesser Scapu (207), Lesser Yellowlegs (104), Double-crested Cormorant (228), American White Pelican (192) and Yellow-rumped Warbler (101).


Lesser Yellowlegs, our most abundant shorebird during the blitz. Copyright Tim Poole

Here are the final day totals:

Number of Species 100
Number of Individuals 4,911
Species Name Species Count
Greater White-fronted Goose 1
Canada Goose 225
Trumpeter Swan 4
Tundra Swan 286
Wood Duck 4
Blue-winged Teal 260
Northern Shoveler 123
Gadwall 81
American Wigeon 44
Mallard 249
Northern Pintail 18
Green-winged Teal 79
Canvasback 77
Redhead 98
Ring-necked Duck 137
Greater Scaup 116
Lesser Scaup 207
Greater/Lesser Scaup 6
Bufflehead 20
Common Goldeneye 44
Hooded Merganser 13
Common Merganser 15
Red-breasted Merganser 5
Ruddy Duck 10
duck sp. 49
Pied-billed Grebe 5
Horned Grebe 9
Red-necked Grebe 14
Western Grebe 63
Mourning Dove 3
American Coot 25
Sandhill Crane 14
American Avocet 8
Killdeer 13
Marbled Godwit 6
Short-billed Dowitcher 1
Wilson’s Snipe 5
Solitary Sandpiper 3
Greater Yellowlegs 6
Willet 11
Lesser Yellowlegs 104
Greater/Lesser Yellowlegs 14
Bonaparte’s Gull 12
Franklin’s Gull 259
Ring-billed Gull 182
Herring Gull 1
gull sp. 30
Caspian Tern 6
Common Tern 5
Forster’s Tern 84
tern sp. 29
Common Loon 3
Double-crested Cormorant 228
American White Pelican 192
Great Blue Heron 7
Great Egret 4
Northern Harrier 15
Bald Eagle 11
Red-tailed Hawk 10
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 3
Northern Flicker 6
American Kestrel 4
Merlin 3
Peregrine Falcon 1
Eastern Phoebe 7
Blue Jay 2
Black-billed Magpie 15
American Crow 19
Common Raven 20
Tree Swallow 50
Barn Swallow 2
Black-capped Chickadee 1
Marsh Wren 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
Veery 1
Gray-cheeked Thrush 1
Swainson’s Thrush 2
Hermit Thrush 2
American Robin 21
European Starling 9
Snow Bunting 1
Chipping Sparrow 4
American Tree Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco 4
White-crowned Sparrow 2
White-throated Sparrow 8
Savannah Sparrow 18
Song Sparrow 62
Swamp Sparrow 3
Yellow-headed Blackbird 22
Western Meadowlark 22
Red-winged Blackbird 405
Brewer’s Blackbird 55
Common Grackle 60
blackbird sp. 402
Northern Waterthrush 2
Black-and-white Warbler 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 12
Yellow Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 101

Thank you to everyone who attended this blitz. We will be looking to do a second blitz of the year in late May or early June, so please keep an eye out for information.

And for those still reading, here is the Lesser Yellowlegs from the first photo.


For those interested, here are the group eBird checklists.

Nature Manitoba

Group 1

Group 2 – A

Group 2 – B

Group 2 – C

Group 2 – D

Group 3 – A

Group 3 – B

May IBA Contest – Shorebirds

Thank you to everyone who has submitted eBird checklists in April. There is still time to submit any outstanding lists before we do the drawer (we will do this early next week).

And to May!

In May, we are starting to see shorebirds arrive in the IBAs. We are going to be focusing more on shorebirds in 2019. Our contest is therefore around checklists with shorebirds. Every submitted eBird checklist which includes at least one shorebird will be eligible for the monthly prize. More details about this contest can be found at IBA Contest.

To prevent confusion, you would also be eligible if you use the ‘International Shorebird Survey’ protocol on eBird. We missed this off the poster deliberately so not to confuse people, but both protocols are certainly acceptable.

May IBA Birding Contest.jpg