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Nature Canada continues supporting Canada’s most important sites for birds!
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Nature Canada continues supporting Canada’s most important sites for birds!

[caption id="attachment_21694" align="alignleft" width="150"]Ted Cheskey  Senior Conservation Manager – Bird Conservation, Education & Networks Ted Cheskey
Senior Conservation Manager – Bird Conservation, Education & Networks[/caption] The Important Bird and Biodiversity Program (IBA) has been active in Canada since 1996, and Nature Canada has been there to help guide its development every step of the way.  A program of BirdLife International, developed and implemented in Canada by Nature Canada and its BirdLife Canada partner, Bird Studies Canada, IBAs are about identifying, recognizing and protecting (either formally or through voluntary stewardship) the network of the most important places for birds. IBAs are discrete sites supporting specific groups of birds: threatened birds, large groups of birds, and birds restricted by range or by habitat. IBAs range in size from veryMoose River Estuary with Moose Cree workshop 2013 tiny patches of habitat to large tracts of land or water. They may encompass any combination of private and public land, and indigenous homelands.  A recent study of Canada’s IBAs revealed that only about 1/3 of IBA area is legally protected (e.g. in a national or provincial park or some other form of protected area).  That means that 2/3's of these ecological treasures lack protection. IBAs are identified using criteria that are internationally agreed upon, standardized, quantitative, and scientifically defensible. This gives them a conservation currency that transcends international borders and promotes international collaboration for the conservation of the world’s birds. It also makes IBAs an important tool for identifying conservation priorities and for fostering greater success in the conservation of bird populations. Since 2008, Nature Canada, BSC and their partners have established a network of local stewards or Caretakers in about 250 of Canada’s 600 IBA.  Caretakers are individuals or groups who are the  natural stewards of IBAs, involved in monitoring, outreach, education, stewardship and advocacy, depending upon the interest and skills of the Caretakers. This year, Nature Canada was successful in receiving two grants from the Habitat Stewardship Program of Environment Canada to inject funds and capacity into the regional IBA programs in Quebec and Alberta.  One Chaplin Nature Centre with friends from Mexicoof the key activities in both provinces will be holding workshops with our regional partners (Nature Quebec and Nature Alberta) to bring IBA Caretakers together to assess the state of their IBAs, reaffirm their interest and commitment, and orient conservation efforts towards declining bird species found within their IBAs.   The State of Canada’s Birds 2012 determined that aerial insectivores (swallows, martins, swifts, nightjars, and flycatchers), grassland species, and shorebirds have declined by 30 to 60% over the past 40 years.  Many species within these three groups are in trouble.  These groups of species will be the focus of conservation attention in these workshops. The first workshop (en français) is scheduled later this month in Sainte Adelle Quebec, and is part of Nature Quebec’s “conservation workshop” series.   Our goal is to emerge with practical actions to help birds in individual IBAs. Stay tuned for the results.   Email Signup

Why become an Important Bird Area Caretaker?
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Why become an Important Bird Area Caretaker?

[three_fourth] Out of our network of Important Bird Area Caretakers, each volunteer has his or her own motivations for looking after an IBAs in their community. These reasons range from a desire to get involved in something local to a lifelong interest in bird life and nature. In this post, Marc-Andre Beaucher shares his thoughts on what it means to be a co-Caretaker for Creston Valley IBAs in British Columbia. This short, condensed interview comes to us thanks to Krista Englund, IBA Caretaker Coordinator for our provincial partner, BC Nature. KE: Why did you want to be an IBAs Caretaker? MB: It keeps me connected with a network of other like-minded enthusiastic and knowledgeable bird watchers. KE: What do you do as a Caretaker? MB: Mostly monitoring and recording bird sightings, as well as completing annual reports for our local IBA. KE: What difference does your Caretaker work make for nature? MB: Helps contribute to the global knowledge about bird ecology and hopefully to good decision making when addressing environmental challenges that affect bird populations. KE: Why are IBAs important to protect? MB: IBAs are very significant to raise awareness about the importance of birds locally, nationally, and globally. They’re also something we can take pride in and enjoy!

[/three_fourth][one_fourth_last] [caption id="attachment_25871" align="alignnone" width="300"]OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Marc-Andre at an IBA monitoring outing (far right).[/caption] [/one_fourth_last]

Important Bird Area Caretaker Receives Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award
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Important Bird Area Caretaker Receives Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

[two_third]Lori Wilson, Important Bird Area Caretaker for Reed Lake IBA in Saskatchewan, received the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award last month in a ceremony in Regina to recognize the province's remarkable volunteers.Their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, and Mrs. Sharon Johnston presented Lori with the Caring Canadian Award at a special event that formed part of Their Excellencies’ visit to Saskatchewan.Among her many achievements, Lori has cared for and protected Reed Lake Important Bird Area as an Important Bird Area Caretaker. She is an active member of the conservation and naturalist community in Saskatchewan, acting as Director for Nature Saskatchewan. You can find out more about Lori’s work as an IBA Caretaker from our blog series that focuses on the people and places behind the Important Bird Area program in Canada. The Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award recognizes the unsung heroes who volunteer their time to helping others and building a more caring nation.
From everyone here at Nature Canada, we'd like to offer our heartfelt congratulations to Lori!
  [/two_third] [one_third_last]lori wilson caring canadian[/one_third_last]

A chance encounter leads to a guided tour of a Manitoba Important Bird Area
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A chance encounter leads to a guided tour of a Manitoba Important Bird Area

[two_third]Charlie McPherson, Important Bird Area Caretaker for the Netley-Libau Marsh in Manitoba, shares his story of the extraordinary sights he witnessed on a recent birding trip.  In August, I attended a fundraiser for The Lake Winnipeg Foundation.. I met a scientist, Buster Welch, at the fundraiser who's on one of the Foundation's boards who just so happens to have a boat. When he heard I was Caretaking and birding our Important Bird Area - the Netley-Libau Marsh, he offered the boat to me for as long as, and for as many times as, I would need it. When I said, "I have a boat," he said, "Ah, but mine is in the water." How true! The Netley-Libau marsh, Important Bird Area (IBA) 009, is about 18 square kilometres in size and flows into Lake Winnipeg. It is an entire ecosystem in upheaval. The Lake Winnipeg Regulation (a dam in the north) keeps it submerged. A submerged marsh is a dying marsh. I live at the northwest corner of this marsh. The scientist lives at the southwest corner. For me to bird the southwest corner, it means hooking up my boat and trailer and launching in Lake Winnipeg nearby (usually quite possible if wind and weather conditions are right, and in the summer they usually are) and a long journey south through the marsh's maze of channels to the southwest corner, or it could mean a simple little hop, skip and a straight jump by road to his boat in the southwest corner - no loading and/or launching of anything - just jump in. He offered to tour me through Wheeler's Lake too, the only marsh lake I hadn't done bird counts in  throughout the spring and summer. It's in the crown lands off the marsh's vast interior and is not as affected by lake regulation. It's a small, shallow  delta marsh lake at the end of Wavy Creek which drains into Netley Creek, which drains into the Red River, which drains into the Netley-Libau marsh - all of the above being a part of the IBA. After setting out together and entering the IBA, we found Green Herons (rare for this area) in one of the fingernail ponds at the end of a water finger within Wheeler's Lake that evening and a few grebes, ducks, other herons, coots and shorebirds etc. - the shallow, weedy, fingertip ponds being where a lot of the life of the marsh is. A Great Egret (another rare bird for this marsh/area) was sighted just last week, and I found 8 earlier in the season in the Crooked Creek area (northeast corner of the marsh). I call the last hour before dusk the ‘Magic Hour’. It's the hour before the birds settle in for the night, the hour when all kinds of bird activity is going on. Ring-billed Gulls, for example, concentrate in this marsh before heading south and there were thousands flying back in from the surrounding farm lands that evening - thousands. I thought I'd be counting them forever when a few Barn Swallows started showing up. I've read that Barn Swallows will almost exclusively roost in marshes during migration, and on their wintering grounds. When my scientist guide shouted, "Tree Swallows!" I looked up and saw that they were Barn Swallows and said so. They WERE Barn Swallows and their numbers built from a few, to a dozen, to a couple dozen or more as we boated through a quarter mile diameter of creek opening in a sea of cattails where Wheeler's Lake meets Netley Creek. I didn't think much about it at first but fall migrating swallow concentrations are a part of why this area is designated an Important Bird Area. You don't see too many swallows zipping around the marsh throughout the summer breeding season so when they started showing up in the dozens I thought it better to be counting them rather than Ring-billed Gulls, so I dropped counting the individual gulls on this trip and just gave them a ‘guestimate’, a rough approximation of the actual numbers. As we quietly motored into Netley Creek, the creek suddenly turned into a turmoil of golf-ball sized splashes, what we thought at first were feeding fish. We both like to fish so we were quite interested in what was going on and, upon examination, realized it was the Barn Swallows returning to the marsh in mass from wherever it was that they had been during the day, diving in for a quick dip and a probable drink, an immediate out, and then into the cattails to preen. (I've watched Red-eyed Vireos do the quick dip thing, as well, although not in mass). There's no way to count a big bunch of Barn Swallows cruising around like WW2 fighter bombers. They were everywhere! Truly, this was a birding experience EXTRA-ORDINAIRE! Golf ball-sized Barn Swallows!  Imagine that! Thank you IBA program! I might have missed that had I not been in the marsh doing these counts. I gave them a guestimate, too, like I did the Ring-billed Gulls. I hope to run into them again on another count. That might help to nail down some of their numbers. I truly appreciated being guided through Wheeler's Lake, not just because of the Green Heron and Barn Swallow experiences, but because Buster was sensitive as to how he maneuvered his boat, how he got me up close to the birds, and how he held the boat in the breezes. On the way back out, with a spectacular red sun setting in the west and a rising white moon in the east, we came across and passed a Merlin perched in a small, dead maple tree. My guide turned the boat gently back downstream, re-approached the Merlin (which kindly obliged us by not flying off) and positioned it in such a way that I could photograph the Merlin with the moon hovering over it, moon framed by branches - another wonderful birding experience. There is no doubt in my mind that the Merlin had been preying upon the swallows and the hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of blackbirds coming in from the surrounding areas to roost in the marsh that night - fall concentrations of blackbirds are another reason this IBA is an IBA. [/two_third] [one_third_last] barn swallows - charlie mcpherson_2MBBarn swallows by Charlie McPherson merlin and moon - charlie mcpherson_2MBMerlin photographed at sunset by Charlie McPherson. [/one_third_last]

IBA Caretaker Braves Storm to Make Observations
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IBA Caretaker Braves Storm to Make Observations

[two_third] [separator headline="h2" title="Charlie McPherson, Important Bird Area Caretaker for the Netly-Libau marsh IBA, is back as a guest blogger with an update on his latest bird monitoring efforts."] By Charlie McPherson The Netly-Libau marsh at the south end of Lake Winnipeg is one of Canada's nearly 600 Important Bird Areas. The day of the storm started out nice and clear and we birder counters (Ray and I) were able to find some nesting colonies of terns and gulls on the Libau side (east side) of the marsh - about an hour's travel from  the west side from which we launched.  We launched on the lake side of the beach ridge separating  Lake Winnipeg from the marsh  simply because access to the marsh through it's river channels flowing into the lake is a whole lot easier from the lake than a marsh side launch which can often be too shallow or plugged depending on wind tides. We travelled the maze of channels within the marsh doing bird counts as we went: a little hike along the south shore of  the lake to the Salamonia Channel got us into the marsh,  a 6 mile journey south got us  to the centre of the marsh, a stop along the way to count and photograph an eagle nest with a juvenile Bald eagle got them on paper, another mile east and then north up the East Channel to it's mouth and about   a  mile  juant south and east across a bay got us to  a fairly good bird count - terns, gulls, grebes, pelicans, cormorants, ducks, geese, even a few herons.  A turn south got us a bigger bird count; a turn north again, east again, south again, more counts. Forster's terns, a trigger species which contribute in part to making this marsh an IBA, will go airborne if you approach one of their colonies. They'll also dive bomb you, although vainly, in an attempt to drive you off. By going airborne the terns give you a bit of an idea of some of the numbers that are out there at that particular site at that particular moment. If there are two of you doing the counts, you can divide the sky in half. For example: Ray counted the birds in the southern half while I counted the birds in the northern half. We took special note to count the young of the year, most of which were already airborne and easily identifiable. Rather than disturb the nesting area right then (as some young were not airborne yet), we'll go back when the birds are finished nesting and all of them are airborne for a more accurate count. We'll also forge our way into the colony site, itself, once the area is abandoned and count nest sites. When we saw the storm kicking up out of the west we abandoned the area ourselves and made a beeline back for our launch site. Lake Winnipeg cannot be trusted even for a minute when a storm is brewing so although a beeline along it's south shore truly would have been a beeline, a return marshside was what it was going to have to be. We took "the short cut" back through the maze of channels: a mile or so north east, a bit west, a few miles south, a cross over west, and bit north, a mile or so west, a bit south, and then more west. We pushed it and made it to a little stretch of open water along the west edge of Hughe's Lake ( a lake within the marsh) as you approach the Salamonia Channel on the west side of the marsh (about half a mile from where we had launched) when the storm hit and wouldn't let us out. We were soaked in an instant. It was Ray's baptism - no doubt about it  - a first time ever journey into the marsh for him. I turned the boat around and headed straight into a large bed of cattails. There's shelter within the cattails. I carry a boat-sized piece of vapor barrier to protect myself, my birding buddies, my scope and my camera, etc., from wind spray when boating into even small waves on normal, nice day, birding occasions. As we were pulling the boat into the cattails, the wind sucked that sheet right out of the boat and sent it flying towards Libau. Oh boy! It landed about 50 yards into the cattail bed. I knew it could make a difference to our weathering the storm, immediately dropped everything and went dashing through the cattails to retrieve it before the wind could suck it back up and actually carry it to Libau, or Ontario for that matter. All Ray could do was wonder. There I was helping him haul the boat into the cattails and suddenly I had disappeared into them chasing down that tarp.  Thankfully, I did manage to get it. We set our boat-birding lawn chairs (we do bird comfortably) into the shelter of the cattails, tucked the edge of the plastic sheet under the back legs, pulled it up over top of us, and sat it out. Did we ever get pelted. It poured sheets of rain. We were already wet, so had we not had the plastic we wouldn't have gotten any wetter, but the plastic did protect us from the pelting, and added to the cattail shelter, and blocked some of the wind that howled over top. We could have turned the boat over and jumped under had I not been able to retrieve the plastic, or had it hailed, but none of that happened. We were safe! The temperature was warm so we weren't cold. When all was said and done and the storm had moved on, I pulled out my campstove and surprised Ray with a warming cup of coffee. We had to bail a foot of water out of the back of the boat before heading out again and once that was done, we were on our way. The turbulence in the Salamonia Channel where marsh draining current meets wind driven lake tide was something else... I found a baby Robin shivering to death upside down in the sand along the lakeshore when we reached our landing. I guess the storm had blown it out of its nest. I couldn't find the nest. I was able to revive it on the journey home - simply cupping it in my hands and blowing hot breath onto it to dry it up. Dog food and hard-boiled eggs have the right protein content for birds like robins if you ever have to nurse one for whatever reason. If you can find a robin's nest with young the same age as the bird you nurse, you can introduce it to the nest. Robins will adopt. There`s a game bird refuge just under the beach ridge, north mid marsh. It was created to keep ducks and geese around a bit longer throughout the hunting season so hunters would have a  better chance of bagging a few. A good hunter who knows what he`s doing can shoot  a marsh out in no time, and game birds will abandon a marsh if they are constantly being shot at, hence the refuge. The true refuge for this marsh, though, should be the north east quarter. This quarter holds, by far, most all of the populations of breeding marsh birds. Proximity to the lake (fish food), the beach ridge (trees and solid ground), plus shallowness of the intermarsh lakes in that corner (mud flats, weeds) are the reasons. All other marsh lakes are too deep (3 ft. average), or too prone to wind tides due to lake regulation for the production of electricity, to support a food chain.  Draw this marsh down and the food chain would return, as would the hundreds of thousands of ducks, geese, frogs and muskrats; and the thousands of terns, gulls and grebes - the numbers our  forefathers used to see. Charlie is part of a network of over 200 volunteers who watch over and protect Important Bird Areas across Canada. As the national sponsor of the Important Bird Area Caretaker Network, TransCanada Corporation committed $1 million in 2009 to support bird conservation efforts in Canada over the following five years. Find out more about the IBA Caretaker Network and how to become a Caretaker here. [/two_third][one_third_last]   Charlie+McPherson+-+IBA+MB009+(Netly-Libau+Marsh)+Caretaker Charlie McPherson in his boat at Netly-Libau marsh, Manitoba IBA+Birders+huddle+under+vapor+barrier+'igloo'+during+Netly-Libau+marsh's+++vicious,+July+2012+storm.Charlie and Ray sit under tarp. Western+sky+clears+over+Cochrane+Lake+within+the++Netly-Libau+marsh+after+July+2012+storm.After the storm [/one_third_last]

Meet Ontario’s First Important Bird Area Caretaker
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Meet Ontario’s First Important Bird Area Caretaker

[two_third]Just two weeks ago, the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory was newly minted as Ontario’s first Important Bird Area Caretaker. As the official Caretaker for the Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area, the Observatory will lead awareness-raising and conservation activities at this globally important site for migrating birds and waterfowl.The Observatory is perfectly poised to take on this particular role due to its extensive involvement in bird conservation that dates back to the 1990s when it was first established through funding providing by Bird Studies Canada, a co-partner with Nature Canada in delivering BirdLife International’s Important Bird Area program in Canada. Over the past 20 years, the Observatory has grown to include full-time station manager, David Okines, and nearly 60 volunteers.With its army of dedicated volunteers and decades of bird monitoring data, the Observatory is a welcome partner in the Important Bird Area Caretaker Network, which includes over 200 volunteers who watch over and protect important bird habitat. As in the past, bird banding and recordings of species’ movements and activities will continue under the supervision of Cheryl Anderson, current President of the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, but now this valuable information will be used to inform a national program to conserve and protect birds. “We thought it was a good idea for the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory to become the Caretaker for the South Shore IBA because we’re already monitoring the site,” said Cheryl, “As we are able to make more site visits, we would like to expand the number of monitoring stations and recruit local naturalist clubs to help us with the monitoring.”The Prince Edward County South Shore IBA is a unique area for birds and wildlife. Its geographic location – at the edge of a peninsula jutting into Lake Ontario – makes it an ideal place for migrating birds to rest and re-fuel in the spring on their way to the Boreal forest and in the fall before their journey across Lake Ontario. During the migratory season millions of birds, including common birds like the Black-capped Chickadee and Blue Jay, and species at risk like Golden-winged Warblers and Bobolinks pass through the IBA. The shoals and deep waters off the peninsula also serve as staging and wintering grounds for waterfowl like Greater Scaup and White-winged Scoters. The sheer number of congregating and migrating birds has led to the IBA being designated as a globally and national significant area for birds.Unfortunately, the IBA’s location has also attracted the interest of wind energy developers. Gilead Power Corporation has proposed to construct 9 wind turbines in Ostrander Point, an area that belongs to the Province of Ontario and lies right in the middle of Prince Edward County South Shore IBA. Building wind turbines in important natural habitat directly in the flight path of millions of birds and bats is undoubtedly bad for wildlife. Cheryl and Myrna Wood along with the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, Ontario Nature and Nature Canada have vehemently opposedGilead’s proposal. “If I could do one thing to protect the Prince Edward County South Shore IBA, it would be to stop the construction of wind turbines in this critically important area for birds and other wildlife,” said Cheryl. Currently, Gilead Power.’s proposal is under review by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, the government body that will ultimately decide whether the project goes ahead. It’s projects like these that highlight the need for IBA Caretakers, since they are uniquely positioned to speak up on behalf of the IBA’s wildlife. “Somebody needs to be speaking up for the IBA and raising awareness of its importance,” said Cheryl, “When people are aware of the area’s significance to birds and wildlife, they’re more likely to want to protect and conserve it.” Cheryl is in the midst of planning the Observatory’s 2013 Spring Birding Festival. In May, the Observatory and the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists are hosts to hundreds of visitors.  Interested members of the public are invited to tour through the IBA, attend a guided birding hike, watch a bird banding demonstration or attend an educational workshop . To find out more about the festival, visit www.peptbo.ca . The IBA Caretakers Network was launched in 2006 by BC Nature in British Columbia with financial assistance from Nature Canada's Communities in Action Fund, and is supported by national sponsor TransCanada Corporation. In 2009, TransCanada Corporation committed $1 million over the next five years to support Nature Canada's bird conservation efforts. Other key donors like Wildlife Habitat Canada, The McLean Foundation and Environment Canada have provided additional support. [/two_third] [one_third_last]   june july 2012 021David Okines talks to high school students about bird identification and banding. june july 2012 046Cheryl Anderson. [/one_third_last]

“Motherload” Migration at Manitoba Important Bird Area
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“Motherload” Migration at Manitoba Important Bird Area

Common tern_shutterstock_1723172

Charlie McPherson is the sole Important Bird Area Caretaker for Manitoba, which launched its Caretaker program this spring. He watches over and protects the Netly-Libau Marsh Important Bird Area (IBA). Last month, Charlie visited his IBA on Mother’s Day. Here’s his account of what he saw.I drove down to the north-west corner of the Netly-Libau Marsh yesterday, Mother's Day morning at 8:30 a.m. and stayed until 11:30 a.m. I could hardly believe my eyes. I landed in the midst of a migration motherload at the end of Warner Rd. You're at the south-west corner of Lake Winnipeg when at the end of that road. It's just a half mile south of Matlock. It's not an all weather road but it's dry.I thought I might pick up a few shorebirds working the muck along the beach by going there. I got shorebirds alright - hundreds and hundreds of them, but not working muck. They were migrating in small flocks (average about 6-20) all throughout my 3 hour sit. I needed a shorebird expert, no doubt about it, to identify these guys as I'm not all that familiar with shorebirds zooming by that fast in flight. I did manage to identify a few though: a Solitary, a Marbled Godwit, and at least one Greater and one Lesser Y-legs as these few obliged me with a brief stop. What was AMAZING was the number of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Baltimore Orioles that kept scooting by (they seemed to be travelling together). If a Grosbeak whizzed by, a couple of Orioles (or three or four or more) were sure to be whizzing by as well, as were two or three or four or more Grosbeaks etc. This pattern was repeated all through the 3 hour observation time. And along with them were streaming numbers of all kinds of other species. We're not talking clouds of migrators here, just a steady flow of birds pretty much non-stop. Most all of the migrating birds were just over, or at, tree height or lower (more often lower) especially through the treeless sand beach area between the lake and the marsh. They'd just swoop right down. One Grosbeak almost took my head off - ha! The migrating stream included lots of small flocks of Barn and Tree Swallows, small and larger flocks of Grackles and Blackbirds, 3 Cooper's and 6 Sharpies, a couple dozen Blue Jays coming two or three or more at a time, a half dozen crows and large numbers of all kinds of dickie birds - a steady stream of 'difficult to identify in flight' small groups of mixed species Warblers and Sparrows in small wave, after small wave, after small wave, all morning long. Hardly was there a moment when something wasn't on the move. Thankfully, there's an isolated 40 foot diameter bluff of trees growing out of what used to be a homestead at the end of the road. Most birds ignored the bluff, although some flew right through it, but some would stop for a minute or two (only) giving me a chance to identify them - Palm, Common Yellow-throat, Northern Water thrush, Blackpoll, Yellow etc, along with an assortment of sparrows, East/West Kingbirds (more West than East). In total too many birds coming too fast to even count. A half silvery moon stood watch at 12:00 in the sky. I might have missed that had it not been for 17 White Pelicans soaring beneath it. Throughout the sit I picked up (lake side) a couple dozen Common Terns, 23 Ring-billed Gulls, 5 Western Grebes, 4 Hooded Mergansers, 2 Wood Ducks, 2 Mallards, 2 Blue-winged Teal, 8 American Goldeneye, a dozen or so Canada Geese, and about a dozen  either Ring-necked or Lesser Scaup in flight way off in the distance. Also one Great-blue Heron, one Bald Eagle and 6 Ravens. I wondered how birds migrating along this corridor numbered two or three hundred years ago? Hordes I bet. I'm guessing that the numbers migrating up the Red, through the marsh, and then following the lakeshore west to Warner Rd would probably be similar to the numbers turning east to follow the lakeshore east to Beaconia Beach and Grand Beach and surrounds northward. It'd be nice to sit that shoreline some day, too, when there's a push like this happening. The wind was 'branches swaying stiff' out of the west. The Netly-Libau Marsh was designated an IBA for its moulting ducks and fall migrants (water birds, swallows, blackbirds etc), as well as for some fair numbers of nesting herons, terns and gulls. After witnessing what I just witnessed, I would say that it should be noted as being an important corridor for its spring migrants as well. It's not often that one gets to get in on a motherload like that. I'm convinced the birds had been going all night and were simply trucking on into the day. They do that when the they leave the Yucatan Peninsula - motor the 18 hour flight over the gulf and if they don't run into headwinds by the time they reach the Texas and Louisiana coastlines they just keep right on going to the forests north of I-10, so says Audubon. A fellow birder told me later that he got in on the motherload a few hours earlier - a mile east - from sunrise to 6:30 a.m. It's going to take a whole lot of effort by a whole lot of people to save the lake/marsh. I feel it's important that our IBA stakeholder interests in the marsh are heard and  met. Two big positives that I see are: the marsh is somewhat self protecting because it is inaccessible but by boat for the most part. Save the marsh, save the birds, grow the birding economy. Although Charlie recently joined the IBA Caretaker network, he’s not new to birding. He has taken part in bird atlasing for Manitoba and had taken groups to the Netly-Libau IBA as part of his atlasing. Currently, Charlie is working with the mayor of Whytewold town and a local restaurant owner to create a space in a community building to run an IBA educational program, birding group, art and garden centre. Charlie is part of a network of over 200 volunteers who watch over and protect Important Bird Areas across Canada. As the national sponsor of the Important Bird Area Caretaker Network, TransCanada Corporation committed $1 million in 2009 to support bird conservation efforts in Canada over the following five years.

Newfoundland Adds IBA Caretakers
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Newfoundland Adds IBA Caretakers

[two_third]Julie Cappleman is a resident of Portugal Cove South, Newfoundland and Josie Osborne calls Tofino, British Columbia home. They live on opposite sides of the country, but one thing brings them together – a love of birds and nature and a passion for sharing it with their communities. Both women are volunteers with the Important Bird Areas Caretaker Network. As guardians of their respective Important Bird Areas (IBA), they watch over and protect the birds and habitat found in each IBA.Julie and her husband, Dave Shepherd, are Caretakers for Mistaken Point IBA and Cape Pine-St Shott’s IBA, which are located on the Avalon Peninsula on the rugged coast of southeastern Newfoundland.  Avid birders, they have been birding in the area with friends and local naturalist groups since they moved here a few years ago.“We’ve always been interested in nature and birds,” said Julie. “When Rosalind Ford, the IBA Caretaker Network coordinator, contacted us about becoming Caretakers, we thought it would be a good fit. We’ve been Caretakers since last fall.”When Julie is not leading interpretive walks in Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve, she’s counting birds and reporting her findings on eBird, an online record of bird sightings widely used by scientists and recreational bird watchers. “Quite a few of our friends are birders, so I’ve added their relevant sightings within the IBAs to eBird,” said Julie. Mistaken Point is a hotspot for wintering Purple Sandpipers and thousands of Common Eiders that stop to re-fuel before migrating north. The Cape Pine-St Shott’s Barrens area attracts large numbers of American Golden Plover and Whimbrel, which congregate to feed during their fall migration before migrating non-stop to South America. Mistaken Point and Cape Pine-St. Shott’s are two of nearly six hundred Important Bird Areas in Canada. The Canadian IBA Program is a cornerstone in science-based, site-specific conservation for birds and biodiversity which has been co-delivered by Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada since 1996. With the spring migration around the corner, Julie is looking forward to the arrival of birds from all over the world. When storms roll in from the sea, as they often do along the coast, birders in Cape Race are sometimes treated to rare sightings of far flung birds. “We’ve had sightings of vagrant birds in the past,’ said Julie, “They’re blown off course and out of their normal range when they end up at Mistaken Point or Cape Race. At different times of the year we’ve been lucky to spot Pacific Golden Plover from Siberia, Ivory Gulls from the arctic, Northern Lapwings from Europe and Fork-tailed Flycatcher from the Caribbean.” Important Bird Area Caretakers like Julie are caring for over two hundred IBAs across the country, playing a pivotal role in ensuring birds and their habitat are protected. The IBA Caretakers Network was launched in 2006 by BC Nature in British Columbia with financial assistance from Nature Canada's Communities in Action Fund, and is supported by national sponsor TransCanada Corporation. In 2009, TransCanada Corporation committed $1 million over the next five years to support Nature Canada's bird conservation efforts.Other key donors like Wildlife Habitat Canada, McLeans Foundation and Environment Canada have provided additional support, some of which was directed to the Atlantic Region. You can find out more about becoming a Caretaker and explore Important Bird Areas in Canada at ibacanada.ca. What are IBA Caretakers doing in other parts of Canada? Read more Caretaker profiles to find out. [/two_third] [one_third_last] Dave and Julie Julie Cappleman and Dave Shepherd cliffPurple Sandpipers in flight. Photo: Cliff Doran IMG_9151Purple Sandpiper. Photo: Julie Cappleman [/one_third_last]

Decline of Common Loon in Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary
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Decline of Common Loon in Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary

common loon_Andrew Reding_flickr
Common loon by Andrew Reding via Flickr
In a special guest post, Kerry Finley (also known as James Finley), Important Bird Area Caretaker for the Sidney Channel IBA and Coastal Waterbird Survey Volunteer, shares his observations of an iconic Canadian bird. As an IBA Caretaker, James is the eyes, ears and feet on the ground at his IBA. Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada co-deliver BirdLife's IBA Program in Canada.
Coastal areas of British Columbia are recognized for their regional and international importance for numerous migratory waterbirds, including various loon, grebe, cormorant, heron, duck, gull, tern and seabird species. During the winter, waterbirds are attracted to BC’s relatively moderate climate, extensive estuaries, tidal flats, and near-shore protected habitats. Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary and the adjacent Sidney Channel Important Bird Area support a diversity of habitats and migratory birds. These species are dependent on the ecological processes that support a diversity of forage fishes and invertebrates.
The Common Loon is a consummate fisher, highly dependent on various small fish species. Its presence and abundance is a good reflection of the health of the marine ecosystem. The results of 79 monthly waterbird counts at Roberts Bay, which is part of Shoal Harbour Sanctuary in the southern Salish Sea, show a long term decline of this species. Last winter, for the first time, not a single loon was detected during the surveys, and except for two observed in September 2010, none were seen during casual daily observations in the sanctuary.
At one time Common Loons were observed every day in the sanctuary. These observations suggest that something drastic has happened to the ecosystem affecting their fish prey. The Pacific Loon and the Red-throated Loon have also declined in abundance at this site, as well as the Horned Grebe, the Red-necked Grebe and the Western Grebe which are all piscivores, or fish eating birds.
After several years of surveying the same site, Coastal Waterbird Volunteers become very familiar with the seasonal patterns in bird abundance and distribution at their site, noticing yearly differences which can be useful to track over time. Coastal Waterbird data is available to any volunteer to download for their site, or any of the sites, through Nature Counts at www.naturecounts.ca.As the national sponsor of the Important Bird Area Caretaker Network, TransCanada Corporation committed $1 million in 2009 to support bird conservation efforts in Canada over the following five years. Watch an interview with Kerry at the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary. This article first appeared in Bird Studies Canada’s December 2011 newsletter.

IBA Caretakers: Volunteers Protecting Birds at Important Bird Areas
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IBA Caretakers: Volunteers Protecting Birds at Important Bird Areas

Hilda and Bruce Noton (2)
Bruce and Hilda Norton at Rice Lake IBA. Photo: Shelly Fisher
For nearly forty years, Bruce Norton has been visiting Rice Lake, Saskatchewan and admiring the abundant wildlife that it supports. Located just 25 km from Saskatoon, it’s the site of an Important Bird Area that is home to large populations of ducks, shorebirds and other wildlife. So when Bruce and his wife Hilda attended a meeting where volunteers were being recruited to care for and watch over Important Bird Areas in the Saskatoon region, they saw an opportunity they knew was too good to pass up.“When I heard about the Important Bird Area project, Hilda and I decided this was something we’d enjoy doing,” said Bruce, “We’ve been at Rice Lake on and off for about forty years, so it seemed like a natural place to volunteer.”As members of Nature Saskatoon, a local naturalist group, Bruce and Hilda had visited Rice Lake Important Bird Area many times on bird watching trips before becoming Important Bird Area Caretakers. In fact, many of the group’s members are avid birders and bird watching is a weekly group activity.
North side (8)
Rice Lake Important Bird Area. Photo: Shelly Fisher
A semi-permanent marsh surrounded by agricultural lands, Rice Lake is an important wetland for waterbirds, especially Franklin’s Gull. Over 3,000 pairs of nesting Franklin's Gulls, representing more than 1% of the estimated global breeding population, have been recorded at this site. The lake is also an important staging site for waterfowl including Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintail, Mallard, and Canada Goose. Not only do Bruce and Hilda make regular visits to Rice Lake IBA to monitor birds and changes to the landscape, they share these observations with local farmers whose land abuts the IBA. “I’ve found that a lot of farmers are conservationists who have an interest in birds and in the IBA,” said Bruce. Farmers will often share their observations of birds passing through their land, adding to the greater pool of knowledge about the wildlife that uses Rice Lake to breed, nest and refuel before long migrations. For Bruce and Hilda, their volunteer work is as much about making observations of the IBA as it is informing local stakeholders on bird conservation issues. “Agriculture is changing, the climate is changing, and we’re not quite sure what this will do to wildlife,” said Bruce, “I think it’s important to have monitors around the country to keep track of how these things are affecting birds and wildlife on the ground.” Bruce and Hilda are a part of a network of over 200 volunteers who watch over and protect Important Bird Areas across Canada. First launched by BC Nature with the assistance of a Nature Canada Communities in Action Fund, the Caretaker network now spans nine provinces.  Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada are the national co-partners in delivering the Important Bird Areas program and coordinating the IBA Caretakers Network in Canada. Are you a member of a naturalist club in your community? If you are actively involved in conserving and protecting natural spaces in your area, joining the IBA Caretaker Network could give you the support and guidance to do more! You can find out more about becoming a Caretaker and explore Important Bird Areas in Canada at ibacanada.ca As the national sponsor of the Important Bird Area Caretaker Network, TransCanada Corporation committed $1 million in 2009 to support bird conservation efforts in Canada over the following five years.

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