The weather for our fall weed pull could not have been more different from our summer weed pull! The twelve of us “braved” the sun and 21oC weather on September 25th to improve the habitat on Sandy Bar, have fun and do a bit of birding. It was certainly not a hardship! Thank to Megan, Leila, Jessica, Andrea, Lauren, Joanne, Alain, Cindy, Jock, Julie and Mark for your work helping to restore this Important Bird Area!
The goal of the weed pull is to clear invasive vegetation from this Special Conservation Area that was created to protect the historical nesting habitat for the Endangered Piping Plover. While Piping Plovers have not been seen in the area for several years, it is also important habitat for many other breeding shorebirds, gulls and terns, as well as migratory shorebirds and waterfowl. The presence of vegetation on this sand bar has reduced habitat quality over the past 10 years. Our goal with the weed pull is to return the habitat back to the sand bar and mudflats that are key habitat for a variety of bird species.
After picking up coffee and muffins in Gimli I drove out to meet our volunteers at the Sandy Bar Beach parking lot at 8:00 am. Our weed pull area is approximately 1 km from the parking lot, so after some coffee and snacks we divvied up our supplies and took a walk along the beach.
From our summer weed pull back in August, the area that we historically have pulled the weeds from was still looking weed-free – which left us free to start on restoring habitat in a new area of the sand bar, directly adjacent to the original weed pull site. The majority of the vegetation we pulled is Sweet Clover, which you can see as the tall plant in the photos before the vegetation has been pulled.
Many of the birds who use the sand bar as habitat to nest make their nests directly on the ground. Having vegetation around the nests gives various predators the ability to sneak up on the nests, eggs and fledglings, so the birds prefer to nest in open areas where they have a good view of what is going on around them.
After a couple of hours of weed pulling, we took a walk up the sand bar to the tip to do some birding and just enjoy the fantastic fall weather. Mark, Julie and Joanne were telling us about some of the history in the area, including that what we think of as a sand bar used to be completely underwater, with only two sand islands visible! That was certainly not the case this year with the beach sand bar being larger than ever due to the low water level in Lake Winnipeg.
Of course, we were also birding at the same time on the walk and highlights included Black-bellied Plovers, American Golden Plovers, Bald Eagles, a Peregrine Falcon and large flocks of Lapland Longspurs.
Once again, thank you to all of our volunteers! We hope you had a great time, and are proud of the conservation work undertaken for the birds at Riverton Sandy Bar IBA! We hold weed pulls at this IBA each year, so if you are interested in this activity or would like more information about other IBA activities you can contact me (Amanda) and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our full species list is:
|American White Pelican||41|
|Total # of species||15|
|Total # of individuals||756|