Sunday, July 19, 2015

Summer Fieldwork 2015: A Few Highlights

I am sharing a few photos that offer a glimpse into my summer field work this year. Since I am not atlassing, I have been doing some surveys for the Nature Conservancy of Canada and some work for the Important Bird Area program, the Manitoba Chimney Swift Initiative as well as being involved in some research related to Golden-winged Warbler and Connecticut Warbler. Some of the grassland highlights are shown in my previous post on the Ellice-Archie community pasture.

Golden-winged Warbler  (Threatened)
I have been involved in Golden-winged Warblers since 2008, including being a part of developing the Canadian recovery strategy. Early this season, I scouted out locations for two of my graduate students in the parkland transition zone east of Winnipeg. Here is a photo of a male and one of a female I found.

Chimney Swift  (Threatened)
In addition to my role on the MCSI (Manitoba Chimney Swift Initiative), was able to participate in the spring national monitoring protocol and other monitoring for Chimney Swifts. This photo shows part of a large roost of over 100 birds entering a chimney in Winnipeg.

Connecticut Warbler
Although not considered at risk, Connecticut Warbler population appear to be on the decline and I have recently become involved in a project to look at their migratory connectivity. I heard and saw lots this spring while scouting and surveying.  

Canada Warbler  (Threatened)
I also lent a little helping hand with some ongoing Canada Warbler research and visited some sites to check for territories. This male near Riding Mountain National Park was particularly showy and even allowed some photographs.

Black-billed Cuckoo 
The tent-moth caterpillars have caused severe defoliation in some parts of our province this year and as a result the Black-billed Cuckoos are abundant. This one popped up in front of me one evening on a Nature Conservancy of Canada property near the Duck Mountains and also allowed me to hear the soft purring call that is quite different from the song. On some mornings surveying I heard 35 individuals.

Philadelphia Vireo
I enjoyed some superb views of Philadelphia Vireo on their breeding grounds this summer. This is a tricky species to find on the breeding grounds and, as almost always, they were located by their song or call first! Two photos below:

Least Bittern  (Threatened)
On a recent survey of some Nature Conservancy of Canada properties in the Interlake, I was delighted to find 3 Least Bitterns including this stunning male near Eriksdale, Manitoba. It was certainly a thrill to observe him perched low near the water gripping the vertical stems with their characteristic feet-splayed-sideways stance and even better to watch his body posture lower and the throat inflate while calling and then to watch as he hopped between the cattails and disappeared. I found it interesting to note that the red lores of high breeding plumage were already partially faded by the end of June. Here are three photos showing this bird calling, then preparing to leap and then leaping between cattails.

Striped Skunk
These two young Striped Skunks chasing each other's tails were a real treat to watch as part of our big weekend of outreach and blitzing in the southwest mixed-grass prairie Important Bird Area (Manitoba, Canada).

Virginia Rail
A sneak peek at the elusive Virginia Rail was another highlight while visiting Whitewater Lake Important Bird Area:

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Showing people lifers is always such vicarious fun. As a reward for his hard work with the IBA and MCSI programs, I managed to show Tim Poole quite a few lifers this summer. This Yellow-bellied Flycatcher on territory was one of the early ones on a day where he saw five new birds. On such occasions, I have my notebook in hand rather than my camera but I did take out it of my backpack, albeit a little late, to take some poor quality documentary shots of some of Tim’s lifers.

I will update this post soon with some more photos... enjoy!

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