On the Lookout for Shorebirds at the Shorebird Scrape

This spring the Manitoba IBA program at staff at the Harry J. Enns Wetland Discovery Centre put out a trail camera at the Oak Hammock Marsh shorebird scrape. The scrape was constructed last year to create additional habitat for shorebirds in the marsh. It is the first time (to our knowledge) that a scrape has been constructed in Manitoba for shorebird habitat. A scrape is a shallow depression made in the ground of wet habitat (in our case attached to a pond) that is seasonally filled with water. The scrape slowly dries out and provides the shallow water and shoreline habitat favoured by shorebirds and many other bird species as well. As this is very much a trial, we wanted to have a set of “eyes” out on the scrape often – so we added a trail camera!

While the trail camera gives us a good idea of how often shorebirds are at the scrape – nothing beats a pair of eyes and binoculars (or a spotting scope). So, if you are birding at the marsh, a stop by the scrape and an eBird checklist shared with Manitoba IBA is appreciated! You will see from some of our images below that due to the limitations of putting the camera out in the marsh mud, the distance the shorebirds are often at, and the resolution of the trail camera, determining species is difficult. I have tried to identify the shorebirds in the photos below, but if you can make out a species I cannot – I am happy to hear from you!

Our first photos with the trail camera were taken April 22. Our late April photos largely consisted of Canada Geese. We also had some nice sunset/ sunrise photos and various duck species.

A chilly morning on April 24th with Redheads and Canada Geese out on the pond and scrape (scrape on the back left side of the photo).

On April 26th we moved the camera to a new spot to get a better view of the scrape. This is when we saw our first shorebird at the scrape – a Marbled Godwit.

Two Marbled Godwits enjoying the scrape on April 26th. They stuck around for about 40 minutes that day according to the camera.

The Marbled Godwit was our most consistent species at the scrape showing up on April 26-27, April 29-May 1, and May 4-10.

The nice cinnamon colour of the Marbled Godwit’s wing is seen as it does a big stretch in the corner of the camera on May 5th.

Other species spotted include American Avocet on May 10-11, Killdeer on May 1 and May 8 and Yellowlegs (species unknown) on May 9-11.

Avocet on a chilly morning at the scrape on May 11.
Two Killdeer scoping out the scrape in May 8.
Two Yellowlegs at the scrape on May 11.

Some other notable non-shorebird sightings from the trail camera include swans (unsure if Trumpeter or Tundra), a gosling, a crow flyby and some lovely sunset/sunrise photos of the scrape. Who says wetlands can’t be beautiful!

Lift off on on the evening of May 4th!
A gosling is in the bottom right corner of the photo. Don’t worry, the parents were around in a previous photo! The first goslings were reported at the marsh on April 30.
A still sunset on the scrape.

These photos were from relative early on in shorebird migration, photos during the peak time are still to come. We access the camera periodically to change the SD cards and batteries so stay tuned to see what comes off the camera next!