2023 Manitoba – Churchill & Southern Manitoba
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Challenging
Group Size Medium Group
Churchill lies on the southwestern shore of Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba, strategically situated in the transition zone between boreal forest and extensive tundra habitat. It was formerly a very reliable locale to find the exceedingly rare Ross’s Gull. Even though it no longer nests there, we have a good track record for finding this beautiful gull along the Churchill River.
Fifteen species of shorebirds nest in the area and they are extremely tame and approachable, a delight for birders and photographers. You can count on close views of Red-necked Phalarope, Hudsonian Godwit, and American Golden-Plover, among many others. Additional birds that we are likely to see include Harris’s Sparrow, Common and perhaps Hoary Redpolls, Pine Grosbeak, Bohemian Waxwing, Little Gull, Parasitic Jaeger, Spruce Grouse, and Willow Ptarmigan.
Arctic Hare is likely, and Beluga Whales are possible near the mouth of the Churchill River. In southern Manitoba we visit a variety of habitats at places such as Oak Hammock Marsh, Riding Mountain National Park, Douglas Marsh, and Whitewater Lake. These areas will complement the birds of Churchill nicely, adding species such as LeConte’s Sparrow, Sedge Wren, Upland Sandpiper, Gray Partridge, Red-necked Grebe, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Great Gray Owl, and Black Tern.
We’ll hope to witness the mating ritual of the Western Grebe, and we’ll make every attempt for a peek at the elusive, diminutive Yellow Rail.
We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
Duration: 11 days
Limit: 4 – 8
Date: 05 June – 15 June 2023
Start: Churchill, Manitoba
End: Churchill, Manitoba
US$5100 per person sharing assuming 4 – 8 participants
Single supplement: US$690
We can run the same trip at a price similar to the larger group price for 2 tour participants, if they rent their own vehicle and pay for fuel – please e-mail [email protected] for details.
- Guiding fees
- Entrance fees
- All transport while on tour
- Domestic and International flights
- Items of a personal nature, e.g. gifts
- Alcoholic drinks
- Personal insurance
- Laundry Service
Flight to Churchill
We arrive at the Winnipeg, Manitoba Airport in the afternoon, then fly directly to Churchill. After a bit of local exploration, our first few life birds, and perhaps an iceberg or two, we’ll settle into a nice lodge for four consecutive nights on the shores of Hudson Bay.
NOTE: **Most participants prefer to fly to Winnipeg a day early, to avoid any complications in case there is a delay on your flight to Winnipeg.
Day 2 - 4
Churchill River and Hudson Bay
Churchill has a unique combination of habitats. It is here that stunted boreal forest meets the Arctic tundra and the rocky shores of Hudson Bay. This gives us the chance to view many shorebirds in breeding plumage, some of them singing and displaying from the tops of spruce trees! We should also see Willow Ptarmigan, Spruce Grouse, Parasitic Jaeger, American Bittern, Harris’s Sparrow, and Common Redpoll on their breeding grounds.
Along the Churchill River and Hudson Bay we’ll witness the mass movement of high arctic species such as Long-tailed Duck, and Pacific and Red-throated Loons in breeding plumage, as we search for specialties including Little, Sabine’s, and perhaps Ross’s Gull. If the ice conditions are correct, we will take a floe ice boat ride where we hopefully will see Beluga Whales and thousands of waterfowl and seabirds.
As we explore the 100-mile road system surrounding Churchill, we may find Caribou, Black-phase Red Fox, and Ermine. One year we watched a Red Fox carry a Hudsonian Godwit to its den of five pups! In 2006 we found an immature Little Blue Heron, Churchill’s second record. The Arctic wildflower display will be beautiful.
Flight to Winnipeg and Oak Hammock Marsh
After one more morning of searching for Churchill specialties, we’ll drive to the airport for our return flight to Winnipeg. If time allows, we’ll spend the remainder of the day at Oak Hammock Marsh, a great waterfowl refuge just a short drive north of Winnipeg.
Interesting breeding birds found here on previous tours include many Black Terns, Virginia Rail, Sedge Wren, Least Bittern, American White Pelican, Marbled Godwit, Short-eared Owl, and Yellow-headed Blackbird.
Day 6 - 7
Riding Mountain National Park
We head west from Winnipeg toward Riding Mountain National Park. We’ll have two full days to explore the boreal forests and lakes of this beautiful area. Birds that we are likely to find include Canada Jay, Boreal Chickadee, many warblers including Blackburnian, Mourning, and Chestnut-sided, and hopefully American Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpeckers.
On a previous tour we saw 21 Black Bears in two mornings, plus 5 Moose! One evening after dinner we will search for Great Gray Owl and Short-eared Owl.
Overnight: near Riding Mountain
Day 8 - 9
Transfer to Brandon and Douglas Marsh
After breakfast we’ll drive south toward Brandon. The vast Great Plains ecosystem will spread out before us in contrast to the boreal forest that we leave behind. Some of the area specialties that we’ll seek include Swainson’s Hawk, Upland Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Sprague’s Pipit, Vesper Sparrow, Chestnut-collared Longspur, and a nice variety of waterfowl, shorebirds, and raptors.
We’ll spend at least one evening at Douglas Marsh in search of LeConte’s and Nelson’s Sparrows, Sedge Wren, and the highly elusive Yellow Rail.
Whitewater Lake and Turtle Mountain
Our last full day will take us to the extreme southwestern corner of the province to Whitewater Lake and Turtle Mountain. Whitewater is an extensive, shallow saline lake fed by runoff from the mountain. This area will increase our chances of finding Gray Partridge.
Other good birds that we may see include Virginia Rail, Pileated Woodpecker, Orchard Oriole, Upland Sandpiper, Willet, Ferruginous Hawk, Marsh and Sedge Wrens, and possibly a Piping Plover. Even Baird’s Sparrow is possible.
Today we are homeward bound. We’ll depart Brandon for our drive to Winnipeg and our mid-day flights home, having logged away many fine memories of the beautiful province of Manitoba.
CHURCHILL and SOUTHERN MANITOBA TOUR
6-16 June 2014
1 – Willow Ptarmigan
2 – American Bittern
3 – Pacific Loon
4 – Sedge Wren
5 – Black Tern
6 – Arctic Tern
7 – Chestnut-collared Longspur
8 – Wilson’s Snipe
9 – Eared Grebe
10 – American Golden-Plover
The entire group agreed upon the most exciting mammal of the tour: three POLAR BEARSon the ice in Churchill, a female with two cubs. This is exceedingly unusual in the month of June. None of us had expected to see even one. Close contenders were 21(!) Black Bears, 5 Moose, and 35 American Bison in Riding Mountain National Park. Riding Mountain also yielded a Mink, while Churchill produced a Least Weasel. Twenty-four Snowshoe Haresin one hour put on quite a show at Riding Mountain. Two White-tailed Jackrabbits in the SW corner of Manitoba were fun to watch. We found just one turtle, a Western Painted Turtle sunning itself on a log. Yellow Lady’s Slipper, an orchid, was abundant in what we felt were very unlikely locations.
Is the flight to Churchill included in the tour cost?
No. All flights during the tour are not included in the cost of the tour, but we can help you arrange the flights.
Will we do any birding the first day?
Yes! We have birding planned if time allows and everything is on schedule.
**NOTE: Most participants choose to arrive in Winnipeg on the day before the tour begins, and spend the night there. This eliminates almost any possible conflict with a delayed airline flight.
How should I dress for the tour?
Check the weather for the destination as close to your departure date as possible, and dress accordingly for your comfort level. You can also review our What to Bring page for more information.
Besides clothes, what do I need to bring?
There are many items the will be useful to you while on a Bird Treks tour. We have put together our list of recommendations on the What to Bring page.
What language are tours conducted in?
Our tours are all conducted in English, but we do have some experience working with client that don’t speak English well – Some English would be needed for safety reasons. In locations where another language is predominately spoken, a native guide may accompany the tour.
Can you help me book flights?
Yes, we will always try our best to help with anything at all! We’re here to serve you. However, it is usually easier if you book your flight through your own travel agent as we can’t always get the best deals from your particular country. But we will help whenever needed!
Can you book accommodation for us the night before the tour starts or the night the tour ends?
While Day 1 is usually a travel (arrival) day, and the last day of the tour is usually also a travel day (departure), many people do like to arrive early and/or leave late. We can indeed book extra nights before and after the trip, and we in fact recommend you let us book them, as it avoids confusion and allows us to book the accommodation that is most convenient for the tour.
NOTE: Most often it is the same hotel or lodge that you use on the first night of the tour, but in some instances, it could be an airport hotel or an accommodation establishment where the guide is staying.
Do you provide trip insurance?
No, we do not. We find that it is better for trip participants to purchase their own medical, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance through their own insurance provider in the country they reside in. We expect all tour participants to have comprehensive insurance, and we encourage everyone to send us a copy of their insurance documents.
Are meals included?
For most tours, meals are included in the tour price. This may include a hotel-provided breakfast, or guide-provided box lunches. For dinners, we strive to find interesting and delicious local restaurants – this allows us to give back to the local economy, and find exciting new place to eat.