Despite the continuing cool temperatures, overcast skies, wind and occasional rain (every day since we arrived on June 8th), the Churchill birding has been excellent . The big excitement has been the Common Crane, a first record for Manitoba and one of the few for Canada. It was first sighted on June 7 by Jennifor Azure, a local resident, and was still present late afternoon today feeding with Sandhill Cranes and Canada Geese on a pile of dumped grain north of the Grain Elevator.
Hudson Bay and the Churchill River are virtually free of ice, so the water birds are now widely dispersed. We've found small numbers of Red-throated Loons, all three scoters, Common Goldeneyes, Red-breasted and Common Mergansers, Common Eiders, and Long-tailed Ducks. The number of Parasitic Jaegers are still low but a few are being reported each day. It appears the main flight of shorebirds has passed through the region. Nevertheless, we are still seeing some good-sized flocks on the "Flats", including White-rumped Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Sandpiper, one Red Knot and Sanderling. The shorebirds there are being harassed regularly by both a Peregrine Falcon and Merlin. Up to five Bald Eagles have been observed as well, along with a few Northern Harrier. There was a flock of 25 breeding-plumaged Stilt Sandpipers along Goose Creek/Hydro Road so some shorebirds are still on the move.
Overall it appears that land bird numbers of some species are low, or perhaps few birds are singing because of the cool weather. We had our first Alder Flycatcher and Gray-cheeked Thrush today. There are still a few Snow Buntings passing through the area along the Churchill River.
Some of the recent highlights include 6 Blue-winged Teal, 1 American Coot, and 1 Hooded Merganser - all along Goose Creek Road. A flock of 120+ Tree Swallows on June 9 at the Weir had 3 Barn and 3 Bank Swallows too.
Today a female Mountain Bluebird was discovered along Launch Road opposite the "Golf Balls" a former radar station. Fortunately we were able to relocate this rare visitor and photograph it.
The Mountain Bluebird is a very rare visitor to the Churchill region.
This individual was very cooperative and tame; with some patience it was easily photographed.
Numerous Pacific Loons have been observed along the Churchill River and various inland ponds and lakes.
At least two Peregrine Falcons harassed shorebirds as they fed at the "Flats" along the Churchill River. One Peregrine was successful.
A colour-banded Semipalmated Plover was sighted along Launch Road. This individual is part of a banding project in Churchill. Remember to report any banded birds or colour-marked ones to the Banding office.
A recently hatched Canada Goose takes cover to avoid detection, dropping its head low just like an adult.