Thursday, August 2, 2012

July 29-30, 2012 Fall birding at Churchill, Manitoba

       Ben and I arrived at Churchill late on July 29th for a week of birding. I've lead tours to Churchill for the past 13 years during spring migration in June and this was my first visit during summer/fall season. Our first stop was at the Granary Ponds were we observed a number of Greater Scaup broods and lots of shorebirds including juvenile Stilt Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, and Short-billed Dowitcher. Also present were young Arctic Tern and Herring Gull. A flock of 44 adult Greater Yellowlegs rested on exposed rocks. It was amazing to see that the House Sparrow population had exploded from a high count of 44 back in June, to 100+ now. They're obviously doing well with the Grain Elevator. At Cape Merry, a number of family groups of Common Eider along with the hundreds of Belugas. A few flocks of Whimbrel were observed both flying and feeding.

       The following morning we had an early start checking birding various areas around the townsite. At low tide, we went to the Tidal Flats and counted 21 Bald Eagles that were either on the ground or sitting up on large rocks while 1500+ Canada and 72 Snow Geese fed alongside the river. It would appear this concentration of eagles was due to the presence of all these geese. We did see one young Bald Eagle feeding on a dead Canada Goose. Also at the Tidal Flats were a large flock of adult Hudsonian Godwit. We ended up counting 156 of them and 220 Ruddy Turnstone were also present. Along Goose Creek/Hydro Road, we spent a couple hours birding, and had 2 Nelson's  and 1 Leconte's Sparrow which are very rare in the Churchill region. Also, we had a large flock of 100+ Rusty Blackbird. Numerous species of sparrow were also observed including, American Tree, White-crowned, Lincoln, Fox and Savannah. Many of these individuals were juveniles. Along the Churchill River, at the marina, we observed 24 Redhead and 6 Ring-necked Duck. Both species of ducks are rare in Churchill.  Many Bonaparte's Gull and Arctic Tern were flycatching at the weir. At the Goose Creek Cottage area a Black-backed Woodpecker was observed and 2 Barn swallow near Akudlik Marsh were likely the same individuals I saw back in mid june. One of our biggest suprises was the lack of mosquitos so far but black flies are making themselves known.

Adult Arctic Tern.

Ben scanning over the mouth of the Churchill River and Hudson Bay.

A juvenile Actic Tern begging for food.

A female common Eider with young.

 A juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs hiddens in the vegatation as one of the adults calls overhead.

The best location for  Nelson's Sparrow  is along Goose Creek Road.

A total of 21 Bald Eagles were obsevered at low tide.

Ben checking out the Granary Ponds.

A flock of Whimbrels flying over Cape Merry.

The Red-necked Phalarope is a regular breeder in the Churchill area.  

Flocks of Rusty Blackbirds were found along Goose Creek Road.

The White-crowned Sparrow was one of the few species still singing.

An adult White-crowned sparrow with two juveniles.

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