Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Birding Southern Manitoba and Churchill: June 3-12, 2009 -The Southern Section.

A view of southern Manitoba before landing at Winnipeg, evening June 2nd.

Today, June 4th we birded the extreme southwest corner of Manitoba. The strong winds, 30+ kms made it difficult to hear birds singing but we managed to see a number of the local specialties. Near the corner of Hwy 256 and Antler Road North, we had 3 Sprague’s Pipit, 8 Chestnut- collared Longspur, 4 Grasshopper Sparrow, 12 Upland Sandpiper, 1 Baird’s Sparrow, 1 Loggerhead Shrike and 3 Sharp-tailed Grouse.

A very common bird on the prairies the Western Meadowlark is a hard one to miss.

On June 5th we again visited Whitewater Lake, early morning, and walked around the first cell. There were still plenty of shorebirds feeding and flying around. Highlights included 600+ Stilt Sandpiper, 450+ Red-necked Phalarope, 1500+ Semipalmated Sandpiper, and 400+ White-rumped Sandpiper. The White-faced Ibis were still feeding along the edge of the cell and we were able to count at least 16 birds including a group of 12. Also 3 Cattle Egrets were observed feeding in the field with the Buffalo. An immature Peregrine Falcon was hunting over the fields.

During the afternoon we birded the Douglas Marsh area and south towards Shilo. The most interesting observation was a pair of Loggerhead Shrike along Magazine Rd. and 1 Sprague’s Pipit doing its aerial display at the end of Waggle Springs Road.

Restless shorebirds at Whitewater Lake

Cattle Egrets feeding with a Buffalo.

The Western Grebe was a common sight on large lakes.

On June 6th we made an early morning visit to the extreme southwest corner of Manitoba. With the early arrival time, the winds were low and we were able to hear lots of bird song. Highlights included 1 Baird’s Sparrow, numerous Grasshopper Sparrow, 4 Sprague’s Pipit, 15+ Chestnut-collared Longspur, 3 flocks of Sharp-tailed Grouse, including a lek of 20+ birds still displaying. All these observations were near the intersection of Hwy 256 and Antler Road 171W. In the Lyleton area, there was an abundance of Orchard Oriole, 1 Lark Sparrow and 4 N.Rough-winged Swallow at Coutler Park.

The Willet, a common sight on fence posts along the back roads in south western Manitoba.

A small lek of 20+ Sharp-tailed Grouse displaying.

On June 7th our first visit was to Douglas Marsh at 7:30a.m. Here we heard a Yellow Rail calling from the east side of the road. After a little searching we were able to view the Yellow Rail. It was a surprise to see it during the daylight! Also present were numerous Virginia Rail, Sora and Sedge Wren. We headed to Riding Mountain National Park and spent 4 hours birding Route 19. At the km 7 marker, we observed a Great Gray Owl hunting along the road. Unfortunately, the owl flushed and disappeared in the woods. There was lots of warbler activity along the road with Tennessee Warbler being the most common and good numbers of Cape May, Nashville and a few Bay-breasted Warbler. At Whirlpool Lake parking lot, there was a interesting concentration of insect eaters along the creek at the bridge, likely due to the cool temperatures. We observed 6 Cape May, 1 Bay-breasted, 4 Tennessee, 1 American Redstart, 1 Yellow, 5 Yellow-rumped Warbler, 1 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and 1 Alder Flycatcher all feeding low over the creek, fly catching from a dead tree. It was great to watch these birds at eye level. We also noted many of the warblers feeding low in the vegetation along Cowan Lake Trail.

Yesterday, in the Lyleton area, we watched numerous Eastern and Western Kingbirds and a small number of Least Flycatchers perched on the corn stubble fly catching over the open fields. It appears the prolonged cool weather maybe having an effect on the insect eaters.

The group watching warbler and flycatcher activity at Whirlpool Lake.

A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was a bonus!

Up to 10 species of birds were fly catching from this fallen tree.

A male Cape May Warbler feeding at eye level.

A male Yellow-rumped " Myrtle" Warbler.

Chestnut-sided Warbler

A female Cape May Warbler displayed nicely.

Normally found at the top of spruce trees, this male Bay-breasted Warbler was found feeding, low along the creek.

After great birding in Riding Mountain National Park, the group headed to Winnipeg for an overnight stay and our flight to Churchill the following morning. Part 2 of the trip, Churchill, will be posted soon!

1 comment:

Carole Williams said...

Great write up of the trip Bruce, sorry that you didn't get the Ross' Gull. Lovely photos also. We really enjoyed the trip, even the very early starts were worth the effort. Best wishes, Carole and Kenneth