Saturday, June 12, 2010

June 12 & 13, 2010 Churchill Birding

The birding continues to be interesting in the Churchill area. We are experiencing beautiful clear and mild conditions with highs of +22c. Unfortunately the mosquitoes are now out in numbers! Yesterday, June 12, highlights included 1 Purple Sandpiper along the tidal flats, 9 Sabine's Gull (7 off Launch Road, 1 at CR 30 and 1 at Cape Merry) and 1 Short-eared Owl at Cape Merry. The number of shorebirds has dropped considerably, and both Snow Bunting and Lapland Longspur numbers are down, the spring rush is almost over! At the Granary Ponds 1 mourning dove was observed feeding on the spilt grain and the California Gull was seen. At Cape Merry 3 Red Phalaropes put in a brief appearance. Along Goose Creek Road 1 Nelson's Sparrow was observed near the Weir road turn off. Today, June 13, there was 1 Cackling Goose in a small flock of Canada's along Launch Road. At Cape Merry in the afternoon we observed 2 flocks of 6 adult Sabine's Gull ( heading east, Hudson Bay) , 1 Long-tailed Jaeger, and numerous Beluga Whales. Also 1 Purple Sandpiper was sighted. Surprisingly 15 minutes later, a flock of 12 Sabine's Gull was feeding off the gravel point near the Grain Elevator along the Churchill River. Land bird migration north is still underway with more Lincoln's Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Alder Flycatcher, Tennessee Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, and Hermit Thrush numbers increasing. Finally caught up to Willow Ptarmigan along the east end of Launch Road, but still no Smith's Longspurs (maybe tomorrow). Good Birding, Bruce Di Labio

The Willow Ptarmigan is easiest found along Launch Road or the Twin Lakes area.

The female Willow Ptarmigan blends into its surrounding well.

A Beluga Whale surfacing along the Churchill River at Cape Merry.

A breeding plumage Black-bellied Plover at the Weir.

The American Golden-Plover prefers to nest on tundra or fairly dry meadows.

The Bonaparte's Gull builds its nest in live spruce placing it usually 2-8 metres high .

The Common Eider is a regular sight off Cape Merry.

A Whimbrel sits on top of a spruce tree watching the open tundra.

June 11, 2010 More birding Churchill

Another beautiful day birding in the Churchill area with lots of activity. Our day started early at 5:30a.m. with an adult Long-tailed Jaeger off the Grain Elevator. At the Granary Ponds there was a large concentration of gulls (150+) including 1 adult CALIFORNIA GULL, 1 Iceland Gull, 3 Thayer's Gull and 1 Glaucous Gull. These birds have been attracted to the area by a dumping of grain, along with Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, House Sparrow and Ruddy Turnstone. Looks great for something really good! Along Launch Road we observed a male Harris' Sparrow near the Camp Nanuk turnoff. At the old burn site near Twin lakes there were 2 Bohemian Waxwing, both Gray Jay and Boreal Chickadee and an EASTERN KINGBIRD fly catching. Other species included Blackpoll Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Fox Sparrow, and Lincoln's Sparrow. During the afternoon mainly birded Goose Creek Road where we heard and saw 1 NELSON'S SPARROW near the Weir and 7 Sabine's Gull and 1 Little Gull from the observation tower at the Marina. Another Sabine's Gull was at Akudlik Marsh. Other migrants today included Alder Flycatcher and Gray-cheeked Thrush.

Good Birding, Bruce

A pair of Common Loon on West Twin Lake.

The Churchill River was still full of ice floes.

The Bald Eagle is an uncommon visitor to the Churchill area during June.

The Gray Jay is a regular sight at Twin Lakes.

The Thayer's Gull is a regular visitor to the Churchill area.

The Red-necked Phalarope breeds at the Granary Ponds near the Grain Elevator.

A view of Prince of Wales Fort from Cape Merry.

The American Golden-Plover is easy to overlook while feeding.

The Fox Sparrow is a summer resident of wet willow thickets and wooded areas. Best location is Goose Creek and Hydro Road.

June 10, 2010 Birding Churchill

Another fun day birding Churchill with lots of shorebirds, waterfowl, and gulls. The activity level at the mouth of the Churchill River was quieter today with more open water. Along Goose Creek and Hydro Road flocks of shorebirds were feeding both on the road and along the mudflats. Most were Baird's, Stilt, White-rumped, and Semipalmated Sandpiper. At the Weir we observed 2 Trumpeter Swan, 1 female Hooded Merganser and 3 Bufflehead. There were still 16 Sabine's Gull and 2 Little Gull feeding with Bonaparte's Gull in the area. More hawks with 3 Northern Harrier, 1 Merlin, 2 Bald Eagle and an adult Red-tailed Hawk all along G.C. and Hydro Road. Observed 1 Hoary Redpoll in the parking lot at the Seaport Hotel and an adult Thayer's Gull at the Granary Ponds. Another flock of 12 Sabine's Gull were sitting along the shoreline off the Gravel Point.

Good birding, Bruce Di Labio

A flock of 12 Sabine's Gulls flying along the Churchill River towards Hudson Bay was almost a regular sight during our tour.

The Sandhill Crane can be found feeding in the open area behind the Old Churchill Dump site.

The Ruddy Turnstone was seen regularly along the railway tracks near the Grain Elevator.

A Horned Lark feeding near the Grain Elevators.

The Bonaparte's Gull is a regular breeder at Churchill.

The Blackpoll Warbler is one of a small number of warblers that breed in the Churchill area.

The Pacific Loon nest on small inland lakes.

An Arctic Hare on the move near Cape Merry.

Shorebird migration was at its peak on our arrival.

Female Lapland Longspur.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June 9, 2010 Churchill Birding

The birding today at Churchill was excellent. Unlike last year at this time ( lots of snow, ice and flooding!) we arrived mid morning to no snow except for a few remaining drifts in the woods or shaded areas, Churchill River open and Hudson Bay mainly frozen but with large leads open. Lots of bird activity at the mouth of the river and Hudson Bay. There were good numbers of loons with 130+ Red-throated, 75 Pacific and 1 Common Loon. Hundreds of diving ducks could be seen feeding and flying including Common Eider, all 3 scoters, Long-tailed Duck, both Common and Red-breasted Merganser. Earlier in the morning 2 male King Eiders were observed off Cape Merry. There was a big increase in Arctic Terns, with a few hundred seen in various areas including Cape Merry, Akudlik Marsh and the Weir. There was also a good number of Sabine's Gulls with 11 at Cape Merry, 1 at Akudlik Marsh, 7 at the Marina and 5 at the Weir. May have some duplication but an amazing sight! Still a good number of shorebirds moving through the area with flocks of Baird's, Stilt, White-rumped, Semipalmated and Least Sandpiper. Also, a few Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Black-bellied Plover and Pectoral Sandpiper. Had a few flocks of Lapland Longspur 200+, Snow Bunting 150+, mainly in the Weir, Marina, and Granary Pond areas. Other land birds of note included Pine Grosbeak, Common Redpoll, American Pipit, Rusty Blackbird, and 1 Northern Shrike. Overall a great start to the week!

Good birding, Bruce Di Labio

The Pine Grosbeak is an uncommon summer breeder.

A view off Cape Merry showing the break up of ice on Hudson Bay

A pair of Bufflehead at the Weir.

A Baird's Sandpiper feeding along Goose Creek Road.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June 8, 2010 More Birding Southwest Manitoba

Finished up birding in the south today with visits to Whitewater Lake W.M.A., Pelican Lake and Spruce Woods Provincial park area. Overall it was a good day birding. Our first visit was to Whitewater where we had 1 Great Egret, 12 White-faced Ibis and 6 California Gull from the parking lot. With high water levels we didn't see any migrant shorebirds. The drive in and out was very muddy and slippery. On Pelican Lake the highlight was a Clark's Grebe. There were over 100+ Western Grebe on the lake along with lots of Am. White Pelican, a large mixed flock of Redhead, Canvasback and Ruddy Ducks. At the marina there were 150+ gulls roosting with at least 3 California Gull. On the water 10+ Bonaparte's Gull and 30+ Black Terns were seen feeding. Our final stop before heading back to Winnipeg was in the Spruce Woods Provincial Park area. We observed 4 Lark Sparrow, 20+ Eastern Bluebird, and 1 Common Nighthawk. Tomorrow off to Churchill!

Well named, Pelican Lake is home to a small number of Am. White Pelicans.

A pair of Western Grebe on Pelican Lake.

The Purple Martin complex at Boissevain was full of nesting Purple Martins.

Even a few House Sparrows found a room at the Inn.

Monday, June 7, 2010

June 7, 2010 birding Riding Mountain National Park

Today, June 7th, spent the day birding RMNP. The birding was excellent with a good variety of warblers mainly along route 19. A total of 19 species were observed or heard including 2 Connecticut, 10 Mourning, 8 Canada, and excellent numbers of Tennessee, Cape May and Bay-breasted Warbler. Other species of note included 3 Gray Jay, 3 Boreal Chickadee, 1 Black-backed Woodpecker, 4 Olive-sided Flycatcher and small flocks of both Evening Grosbeak and Pine Siskin. A total of 110 species were observed for the day.

Good Birding, Bruce Di Labio

A male Mourning Warbler showing its gray hood and black chest patch.

Tennessee Warblers could be heard singing everywhere along Route 19.

A flock of male Evening Grosbeaks picking up grit along the road.

Always a challenge to see, this male Connecticut Warbler put on a great show.

Note the conspicuous eye ring on the male Connecticut Warbler.

Black Bears were numerous on our visit to RMNP.

A total of 6 bears were observed.

A male Bay-breasted Warbler feeding in a spruce tree.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

More birding in southern Manitoba June 6, 2010

Our first stop today was at Douglas Marsh. Lots of activity including 4 Le conte's Sparrow, 2 Nelson's Sparrow, 8 Sedge Wren and 2 Yellow Rail. The rails were calling from the west side of the road. Along Waggle Springs Road watched a small group of 10 Sharp-tailed Grouse displaying. At the south end of Waggle Springs Road had a few Chestnut-collared Longspur, 1 Spraque's Pipit , 2 Grasshopper Sparrow, along with 2 Lark Sparrow. Further west observed 2 Loggerhead Shrike, 1 near Broomhill and the second along Hwy. 345 near Bernice. There was 1 Snow Goose along the Souris River near Coulter.

Good Birding, Bruce Di Labio

While driving south of Brandon on Hwy. 10 we spotted 2 baby Wilson's Snipe standing in the middle of the road.

We made a quick stop before any traffic came by and walked them off to the vegetation along the road side.

Sharp-tailed Grouse were still on "leks" near Shilo. We watched 10 males dancing and displaying.

The Loggerhead Shrike is a scarce breeder in southern Manitoba.

A male Lark Sparrow in full display as a nearby female watches.

The distinctive head and tail marking make it a very striking sparrow.

A Grasshopper Sparrow in full song.

Cliff Swallows gathering mud to build nests.

A White-tailed Jack Rabbit in full stride.

The Vesper Sparrow is one of the most common sparrows found in the southwest. Note the white outer tail feathers and eye ring.