Manitoba Important Bird Areas Program News Update
Fall 2016
Welcome to our first ever official Manitoba IBA newsletter. These occasional newsletters will be designed to highlight the many good things happening in Manitoba's IBAs. Below we highlight the ongoing situation at Whitewater Lake IBA, highlight some of the fantastic results from a summer of monitoring events and some thoughts on things to keep people busy with over winter.
Plenty of Action at Whitewater Lake IBA
Whitewater Lake is possibly Manitoba's best known birding site. There has been increased interest in this IBA over the past year following plans to develop drainage channels, reducing current water levels. This is a controversial topic and you can learn more about it by reading the links at the bottom of this story.

During August the IBA Program organised a blitz with the help of caretakers Colin Blyth and Gillian Richards. Over 70,000 birds were counted, including globally significant concentrations of Pectoral Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher and Western Grebe. Below are links to some stories about the day including stories by CBC and Nature Manitoba and the final report from the program.

The IBA Program report of the Whitewater Lake Blitz
A rare breeding record of Black-winged Stilt
CBC Manitoba report on the IBA blitz
Nature Manitoba report on the IBA blitz
Nature Manitoba article on the Whitewater drainage situation
CBC article on the flooding around Whitewater Lake IBA
Riverton Sandy Bar IBA Piping Plover Workparty

IBA Caretakers are people of many talents. When not teaching music to school children, Joanne Smith spends a significant amount of her time at Riverton Sandy Bar IBA. Walking out to the tip of the IBA, Lake Winnipeg shimmering either side of her, Joanne would note that where once the lowly Piping Plover roamed, there was now a forest of invasive white sweet clover. With the first breeding attempt of Piping Plover in Manitoba since 2012 recorded earlier this year, it seemed like an opportune moment for a group of 14 burly souls to pull up their sleeves and pull up some weeds. You can read more about our Riverton workparty on the blog. There were also pieces on the CBC website and in the Express Weekly (jump to page 26).
Delta Marsh IBA Blitz
Semipalmated Plover (copyright Christian Artuso)

We had our fourth and fifth blitz days of the year at the end of August with a double whammy at Delta Marsh IBA. Day 1 consisted of 8 different areas being monitored by 23 people. Highlights included a funky Red Knot and a Harlequin Duck, very much a rarity in Manitoba in late summer. Our objective was to count as many shorebirds as possible and Colin Blyth, Louanne Reid and Erica Alex did especially well in this regards, counting over 4000 birds in one small area.

Day 2 was an opportunity for a very small group to be taken out on a couple of boats by a couple of guys from Manitoba Sustainable Development. Again, we were primarily seeking shorebirds but this time on the marsh interior.

The total counts across the two days were impressive, although there was strong evidence of an overnight migration event between days 1 and 2 reducing the number of shorebirds significantly. Impressive numbers of Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers were recorded but even more impressive was the significant number of Semipalmated Plovers. In total we counted over 32,000 birds, representing 145 species.
Oak Hammock Marsh IBA Year-end Blitz
Our final blitz of the year was took place at Oak Hammock Marsh IBA. Given this is an IBA recognised for its globally important concentrations of migrating geese, proceedings started with a sunrise count of geese leaving the marsh. We then proceeded to count everything else we could find and came up with a pretty good list totaling >90 species given it was early October in Manitoba. Check out the website for a summary of the total species and numbers.
Grassland Bird Project Update
Since 2014, the IBA Program has been especially focused on grassland birds and the Southwestern Manitoba Mixed-grass Prairie IBA. In 2016, we have collected data at four other IBAs with grassland birds (Oak Lake and Plum Lakes IBA, Delta Marsh IBA, Whitewater Lake IBA and Oak Hammock Marsh IBA). A repeated summer blitz at the Southwestern Manitoba Mixed-grass Prairie IBA uncovered significant populations of Sprague's Pipit and Chestnut-collared Longspur, plus impressive numbers of other grassland and wetland birds. Here are some reports from the weekend:

Blog 1 - Scouting day and landowner visit
Blog 2 - Scouting day totals
Blog 3 - IBA blitz report
Blog 4 - IBA Blitz total numbers

The IBA Program is currently working with partners on a follow-up program to the Manitoba Grassland Bird Initiative. Watch this space. In the meantime, if you have not seen it yet, we have the 'Landowners Guide to Grassland Bird Conservation'. If you would like a copy then please get in contact using the contact details at the bottom of this email.
From Hudson Bay to Delta to Whitewater

It is not often that we get real life examples demonstrating the importance of IBAs to migrating birds in Manitoba. However, a chance photo at Delta Marsh IBA by Christian Artuso has revealed some of the movements of a single Pectoral Sandpiper. Christian tells the story here.
Upcoming Events
There are no IBA events coming up. However, there are plenty of other ways to get involved in citizen science over the winter months, and even opportunities to learn more about IBAs and birds. Check out our events page to find out more.
With thanks to all our project funding partners
The Manitoba Important Bird Areas Program is a partnership between
Copyright © 2016 Nature Manitoba, All rights reserved.

Our contact details are:

Manitoba Important Bird Areas Program
c/o Nature Manitoba
401-63 Albert Street
Winnipeg, MB R3B 1G4

(204) 901-943

For more information on the national IBA Program, please visit

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Manitoba Important Bird Areas Program · 401 - 63 Albert Street · Winnipeg, Mb R3B 1G4 · Canada

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