Oak Lake IBA – Red-Headed Woodpecker Blitz

On August 15th we had our second IBA Blitz of the year. Volunteers travelled out to the Oak Lake/ Plum Lakes IBA in search of Red-headed Wooodpeckers.

The day started off early for several volunteers making the trip from Winnipeg to Virden area! We also had a couple of volunteers from the Brandon area join us in surveying a large section of the IBA. The weather started out wonderful for birding – we avoided the early morning rain as well as the strong afternoon winds! Our volunteers split into 3 groups for the day so that we could cover the largest area possible.

Group 1 comprised of the IBA staff (Amanda, Nate and Alyssa). We had a blackbird-happy day and our species with the highest counts were Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, Brown-headed Cowbirds, and Yellow-headed Blackbirds. We also saw 9 Eastern Wood-Pewees throughout the day.

There was a Red-headed Woodpecker here a minute ago! Habitat where Group 1 saw an adult and juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker. Copyright A. Shave.

Group 2 included Gillian, Roger and Heather. Group 2 became our most successful “shorebirders” of the day and saw many Lesser Yellowlegs, Red-necked Grebes, Marbled Godwits, and Stilt Sandpipers. They were also lucky enough to see several White-faced Ibises. They saw our most abundant species of the day -­ Franklin’s Gulls – with a count of around 2000 individuals!

Group 3 included Glennis, Cam, Paul and Lynn. Group 3 saw a large flock of nearly 30 Cedar Waxwings. Other exciting finds were a Broad-winged Hawk, Purple Martins, and a pair of Lark Sparrows.

And now on to the the Red-headed Woodpeckers! Group 2 saw the largest number of Red-headed Woodpeckers by far, with a total of nine seen, all in or around sites that were identified by blitz volunteers last year. Group 1 saw two Red-header Woodpeckers (an adult and a juvenile) together, also hanging out in an area where they had been previously seen. Despite driving through what we would expect to be good Red-headed Woodpecker habitat, Group 3 did not see any of the species. The area Group 3 was surveying was new to our Red-headed Woodpecker Blitz this year, and we now have valuable ground truthing of the possible habitat north of the Trans-Canada Highway in the Oak Lake IBA. All together we found Red-headed Woodpeckers at 6 points within the IBA and possible breeding pairs were detected at 4 points. We had a total count of 10 adults and 1 juvenile for the day.

To everyone who came out thanks for the great day and all your hard work! Collectively we saw 73 species and 3182 individual birds! Our full species list is below.

Species NameTotal
Canada Goose8
Wood Duck1
Blue-winged Teal41
Lesser Scaup1
Red-necked Grebe7
Mourning Dove74
American Coot10
Marbled Godwit5
Stilt Sandpiper4
Least Sandpiper8
Greater Yellowlegs5
Lesser Yellowlegs51
Franklin’s Gull2000
Black Tern1
Double-crested Cormorant1
Great Blue Heron8
White-faced Ibis7
Turkey Vulture2
Accipiter spp.2
Broad-winged Hawk1
Swainson’s Hawk1
Red-tailed Hawk25
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker14
Red-headed Woodpecker11
Downy Woodpecker3
Hairy Woodpecker2
Pileated Woodpecker1
Northern Flicker12
American Kestrel4
Eastern Wood-Pewee15
Eastern Phoebe3
Least Flycatcher9
Great Crested Flycatcher2
Western Kingbird13
Eastern Kingbird46
Blue-headed Vireo1
Red-eyed Vireo10
Blue Jay2
Black-billed Magpie16
American Crow25
Common Raven5
Black-capped Chickadee11
Purple Martin2
Tree Swallow12
Bank Swallow8
Barn Swallow28
Cliff Swallow20
European Starling8
Gray Catbird8
Brown Thrasher1
Eastern Bluebird5
American Robin17
Cedar Waxwing53
House Sparrow10
American Goldfinch52
Chipping Sparrow2
Clay-colored Sparrow6
Lark Sparrow2
Vesper Sparrow5
Song Sparrow2
Yellow-headed Blackbird40
Western Meadowlark23
Baltimore Oriole6
Red-winged Blackbird145
Brown-headed Cowbird54
Brewer’s Blackbird7
Common Grackle63
Yellow Warbler5

Manitoba’s First Shorebird Scrape

La version français suit…

Exciting news came out of Oak Hammock Marsh last week with the construction finishing on Manitoba’s first shorebird scrape at the Wildlife Management Area.

The new shorebird scrape as seen from PR 220. Copyright C. Heald.

What is a scrape you might ask? It is a conservation tool that benefits many species, including shorebirds. A shallow depression is dug into the ground, and this depression is seasonally fed with water. Generally the scrape is wetter in the spring, due to spring rains and drier in the autumn. The shallow depression leads to shallow water, providing good habitat for aquatic invertebrates, and the various animals that feed on them (such as ducks, geese, shorebirds, and amphibians).

Canada Geese enjoying the shorebird scrape. Copyright C. Heald.

Scrapes are a common conservation tool in Europe, but less commonly employed in North America. Luckily, so far we seem to have a successful scrape, with a Lesser Yellowlegs spotted in a photo only two hours of the scrape being completed.

Can you spot the first shorebird visitor to to shorebird scrape? Copyright C. Heald.

If you are interested in visiting the shorebird scrape, you can find it on the southern edge of the pond closest to Provincial Road 220. It is visible from PR 220 or from Duck Pond Trail (with a viewing blind). Manitoba IBA will be at Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre’s Migration Festival on September 26th with spotting scopes, if you are interested in seeing what is out on the scrape. Manitoba IBA would also love to feature photos and bird lists of shorebirds (and other birds!) using the scrape, you can send them to iba@naturemanitoba.ca. There is also a new hotspot set up for the Oak Hammock Marsh – Shorebird Scrape on eBird to help us keep track of species using the scrape (versus the marsh as a whole).

Location of the shorebird scrape at Oak Hammock Marsh WMA

The Shorebird Scrape would not have been possible without funding and support from The Conservation Trust, Nature Manitoba, Province of Manitoba and Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre.

Le premier étrépage de limicoles du Manitoba

La semaine passée, le marais Oak Hammock était heureux d’annoncer la fin de la construction du premier étrépage de limicoles sur son Aire de gestion de la faune au Manitoba.

Le nouvel étrépage de limicoles, vu de la Route provinciale 220. Droit d’auteur de C. Heald

Vous vous demandez peut-être ce qu’est un étrépage? C’est un outil de conservation qui profite à plusieurs espèces, limicoles inclus. Une dépression peu profonde et creusée dans le sol, et cette dépression est alimentée en eau selon les saisons. Règle générale, l’étrépage est plus humide au printemps, à cause des pluies printanières, et plus sec à l’automne. La faible dépression contient une eau peu profonde, et fournit un bon habitat aux invertébrés aquatiques, puis aux divers animaux s’en nourrissant (tels les limicoles et les amphibiens).

Des bernaches du Canada profitent de l’étrépage de limicole. Droit d’auteur de C. Heald.

Les étrépages sont un outil de conservation commun en Europe, mais ils sont utilisés moins fréquemment en Amérique du Nord. Heureusement, notre étrépage semble déjà porter fruit, avec l’observation d’un petit chevalier deux heures seulement après la complétion de l’étrépage.

Pouvez-vous repérer le premier oiseau de rivage à l’étrépage de limicoles? Droit d’auteur de C. Heald.

Si vous voulez visiter l’étrépage à limicoles, vous pouvez le trouver au sud de l’étang le plus près de la route provinciale 220. Il est visible depuis la RP 220 ou du sentier Duck Pond (depuis la cache d’observation). ZICO Manitoba sera présent à la Journée des oiseaux migrateurs du Centre d’interprétation du marais Oak Hammock du 26 septembre et aura des lunettes d’observation disponibles pour les personnes intéressées à découvrir les secrets de l’étrépage. ZICO Manitoba aimerait aussi publier des photos et des listes d’observation de limicoles (et des oiseaux en général) qui fréquente l’étrépage; vous pouvez les envoyer par courriel à iba@naturemanitoba.ca. Il y a également un nouveau site public d’observation de l’étrépage avec eBird, « Oak Hammock Marsh – Shorebird Scrape », qui nous permettra de faire le suivi des espèces utilisant l’étrépage (versus le marais dans son entier).

Site de l’étrépage de limicoles de l’AGF du marais Oak Hammock

L’étrépage de limicoles n’aurait pu être réalisé sans l’aide financière et l’appui de The Conservation Trust, de Nature Manitoba, de la Province du Manitoba et du Centre d’interprétation du marais Oak Hammock.

North, East and West Shoal Lakes Blitz

On August 8th we had our first IBA Blitz of the year (much later than normal of course, but better late than never!). Volunteers went out in the North, East and West Shoal Lakes IBA in search of Red-headed Woodpeckers.

Red-headed Woodpecker. Copyright R. Mooi

The day started off with perfect weather for our 15-member blitz crew to survey for birds! We surveyed a large area of the IBA, as well as outside the IBA northeast of Inwood.

IBA group survey areas. Groups 1-5 are in the Shoal Lakes IBA, while Group 6 surveyed outside the IBA where Red-headed Woodpeckers have been spotted in the past. Copyright Manitoba IBA.

The IBA appeared much drier than in previous years and many marsh areas looked a lot more like dried ground with no water in sight! However, the low water level was a boon for groups that surveyed the edges of the Shoal Lakes, as a variety of shorebirds were using the shallow water and mud flats left over. No individual shorebird had a huge number of individuals (although there were 107 Greater Yellowlegs and 191 Lesser Yellowlegs) but we had a good number of different shorebird species at 13.

American Avocet. Copyright K. Schulz.
Mixed flock of shorebirds. Copyright R. Mooi.

A large number of Great Egrets were also spotted (55 individuals). Some folks were lucky enough to even see a Black-crowned Night-heron, which has overwise proven illusive this summer. Amanda and Alyssa surveyed an area outside the IBA (prior years with good Red-headed Woodpecker habitat) and ended up with a fairly large gathering of Franklin’s Gulls (744 individuals).

A Great Egret impersonating a Red-headed Woodpecker. Copyright K. Schulz.

Now to our focal species – Red-headed Woodpeckers. The species was abundant in this IBA, although surveying success seemed different than surveys in past years that occurred earlier in the year. Some groups found that without playback detection of Red-headed Woodpeckers was unlikely. Birds did, however, seem to respond to playback and call back or appear out from behind trees. Other groups did not experience the same thing and either saw birds without playback or found that the birds did not react to playback at all! The variation in experiences between groups was interesting.

 We found Red-headed Woodpeckers at points all across the IBA, as well as an area to the northeast of the IBA surveyed due to high numbers seen there last year. Each group was lucky enough to detect at least one Red-headed Woodpecker, and we had a day total count of 20 individuals.

Red-headed Woodpecker seen by Amanda and Alyssa in a much leafy-er habitat than expected. Copyright A. Shave

Despite the delayed time of year, we had a successful day in the Shoal Lakes IBA. Thank you again to all the volunteers that came out: Jo, Bonnie, Peter, Doreen, Katherine and John, Matt, Garry, Rudolf, John, Randy and Odette who joined Amanda, Alyssa and Nate on this blitz. Your dedication to birding and conservation is always appreciated and helps our feathered friends within Manitoba!

Our volunteers enjoying a socially distanced meet up and snacks. Copyright R. Mooi

Our full bird count is below.

Species NameInside IBAOutside IBATOTAL
Canada Goose90 090
Trumpeter Swan101
Wood Duck1 01
Blue-winged Teal235 0235
Northern Shoveler 12214
Mallard347 0347
Green-winged Teal16117
Ring-necked Duck1 01
Common Goldeneye202
Northern Pintail900
Duck spp30030
Hooded Merganser3 03
Sharp-tailed Grouse3 03
Pied-billed Grebe3 03
Western Grebe30 030
American Coot202
Belted Kingfisher101
Rock Pigeon426
Mourning Dove35136
Ruby-throated Hummingbird5 05
American Coot22
Sandhill Crane672188
American Avocet606
Baird’s Sandpiper303
Killdeer46 046
Marbled Godwit5 05
Pectoral Sandpiper9 09
Wilson’s Snipe14 014
Spotted Sandpiper1 01
Solitary Sandpiper17522
Least Sandpiper707
Stilt Sandpiper909
Greater Yellowlegs1073110
Lesser Yellowlegs191 0191
Tringa spp10010
Peep spp20020
Wilson’s Phalarope808
Bonaparte’s Gull101
Franklin’s Gull173744917
Herring Gull202
Ring-billed Gull12246168
Gull spp15015
Black Tern17 017
Common Tern14014
Forester’s Tern101
Double-crested Cormorant88
American White Pelican957102
American Bittern101
Black-crowned Night Heron101
Great Blue Heron7 07
Great Egret55 055
Turkey Vulture314
Northern Harrier4 04
Sharp-shinned Hawk1 01
Cooper’s Hawk1 01
Bald Eagle7 07
Red-tailed Hawk14317
Broad-winged Hawk202
Peregrine Falcon101
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker11 011
Red-headed Woodpecker13720
Downy Woodpecker7 07
Hairy Woodpecker101
Pileated Woodpecker6 06
Northern Flicker729
American Kestrel27229
Eastern Wood-Pewee11213
Eastern Phoebe77
Alder Flycatcher404
Least Flycatcher19625
Great Crested Flycatcher8 08
Eastern Kingbird9819117
Blue-headed Vireo202
Warbling Vireo15 015
Red-eyed Vireo27330
Blue Jay14115
Black-billed Magpie24125
American Crow401050
Common Raven13316
Black-capped Chickadee10111
Horned Lark 123
Purple Martin 123
Cliff Swallow303
Tree Swallow52 052
Bank Swallow101
Barn Swallow79685
Northern Rough-winged Swallow101
House Wren4 04
Sedge Wren20222
Marsh Wren505
European Starling73 073
Gray Catbird16117
Brown Thrasher3 03
Eastern Bluebird2020
American Robin50858
Cedar Waxwing83891
American Goldfinch9914113
Chipping Sparrow14
Clay-colored Sparrow68169
Vesper Sparrow1 01
Savannah Sparrow31 031
Song Sparrow39544
Swamp Sparrow303
Yellow-headed Blackbird88
Western Meadowlark60 060
Baltimore Oriole15116
Red-winged Blackbird3129321
Brown-headed Cowbird16 016
Brewer’s Blackbird38 038
Common Grackle132132
Black-and-white Warbler 112
Chestnut-sided Warbler101
Tennessee Warbler1 01
Nashville Warbler1 01
Common Yellowthroat6 06
Yellow Warbler21223
Rose-breasted Grosbeak6 06
White-breasted Nuthatch404
House Sparrow18018

September Events at Manitoba IBA

Shorebird Webinar – Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC) with Manitoba IBA: Hear about migration stories of shorebirds in Manitoba track with MOTUS Wildlife Tracking Technology, discover about citizen science opportunities with the International Shorebird Survey, and learn tips and techniques for counting shorebirds. September 22, more details to come.

Flock of short-billed dowitchers. Copyright C. Artuso

Migration Days: Manitoba IBA will also be at Migration Day at Oak Hammock Marsh on September 26th starting at 8:00am. Don’t miss a variety of IBA events including:

8:00am Birding walk – Registration Required

11:00 am Birding walk – Registration Required

Spotting Scopes set up on the NEW shorebird scrape – No registration required.

Newly constructed Shorebird Scrape at Oak Hammock Marsh. Copyright P. Grieef.