Oak Hammock Marsh Shorebird Walk

On Saturday May 28th, Manitoba IBA led two shorebird walks at Oak Hammock Marsh. Starting at 8 am and then 10 am, we wandered the soaked marsh paths and while shorebirds were mostly small in numbers, we did have a few surprises from the day!

Monitoring at the Shorebird Scrape. Photo by Ariel Desrochers.

We met our first group just before 8am in the parking lot of the Harry J. Enns Interpretive Centre. Unfortunately, our coordinator Amanda, who would normally lead a walk such as this, was stuck at home recovering from Covid-19. However, we were lucky enough to have Bonnie Chartier with us! She is a experienced birder, IBA Steering Committe member, International Shorebird Survey volunteer and tour guide and was so was beyond perfect for the job. I (Ariel) was also there to assist. Before we set off, we spoke to Paula, Oak Hammock Marsh’s Resident Naturalist, who informed us of the high water levels, which was not surprising in the least.

Our first group included experienced birders and a young birder and her mom, their first birding outing! Our first stop was the Shorebird Scrape where we saw various duck species, including Northern Shoveler and Redheads, and were surrounded by swooping swallows. The majority were Tree Swallows but also spotted were Bank, Cliff, Barn and Northern Rough Winged Swallows. This is where we spotted two shorebird species, a Marbled Godwit and a Spotted Sandpiper. After monitoring that area for a while we set off towards Willow trail. Along the way we listened for sparrows and warblers. We were drawn by the calls of a few Sora, but never saw them. We only had a hour and a half for our walk so eventually we turned around and headed back. Just before the parking lot, a handful of the group noticed a number of birds flying in a “V” formation above, followed by many separate groups of the same bird. It was determined that they were Black-bellied Plover!

Our second group started out at 10 am and headed down Blackbird trail. By this time the wind had picked up significantly but we were still able to hear quite a bit of bird noise. Bonnie pointed out the call of a Least Bittern that was across the Marsh, and several Sora were also heard. A group of trees contained swallows, a Magnolia Warbler, a Wilson’s Warbler and a Common Yellowthroat, which was a first for me! We took our time on Blackbird trail and rounded out the walk by heading back on the boardwalk.

Northern Shoveler. Photo by Ariel Desrochers.
Killdeer. Photo by Ariel Desrochers.

Overall, due to the water high water levels, few shorebirds were spotted but there was still plenty to be seen. A big thanks to everyone who came out and to Bonnie Chartier for leading the day! The full checklist of species for each walk can be found below:

Counts for 8:00 am walk:

Species Count
Canada Goose13
Trumpeter Swan2
Blue Winged Teal 8
Northern Shoveler9
Mallard 3
Canvasback 1
Redhead 8
Lesser Scaup 2
Black Bellied Plover300
Marbled Godwit1
Spotted Sandpiper1
Black Tern6
Least Bittern1
Northern Harrier1
Bald Eagle 1
American Kestrel1
Common Raven 2
Northern Rough-Winged Swallow3
Purple Martin 6
Tree Swallow40
Bank Swallow3
Barn Swallow2
Cliff Swallow3
Sedge wren 2
Gray Catbird2
Clay-colored Sparrow 1
Savannah Sparrow2
Song Sparrow2
Swamp Sparrow4
Yellow Headed Blackbird12
Western Meadowlark1
Red Winged Blackbird8
Brown-headed Cowbird1
Common Grackle 3
Common Yellowthroat1
Yellow Warbler 1
Wilson’s Warbler 1

Counts for 10:00 am walk:

Canada Goose3
Blue-winged Teal 1
Northern Shoveler 1
Lesser Scaup2
American Coot2
Black Tern2
American White Pelican 1
Least Bittern1
Great Blue Heron3
Eastern Kingbird1
Common Raven 1
Purple Martin 15
Tree Swallow6
Bank Swallow1
Barn Swallow1
Marsh Wren 2
Clay-colored Sparrow1
Song Sparrow1
Swamp Sparrow1
Yellow-headed Blackbird2
Red-winged Blackbird Present
Common Grackle 10
Common Yellowthroat 5
American Redstart 1
Magnolia Warbler 1
Yellow Warbler 3
Wilson’s Warbler 1

-Ariel Desrochers