Welcome to Birdquest

MANITOBA

The Best of Canada

Birdquest’s Manitoba birding tour offers a classic North American birdwatching experience. Our Manitoba tour records a splendid diversity of bird species in a fascinating variety of habitats, including such specialities as Spruce Grouse, Yellow Rail, Sabine’s and Thayer’s Gulls (and a chance for Ross’s Gull), Great Grey Owl, Sprague’s Pipit, Baird’s, Le Conte’s, Nelson’s Sharp-tailed, American Tree and Harris’s Sparrows, Arctic (or Hoary) Redpoll, Pine Grosbeak and Smith’s Longspur.

Monday 28th May — Tuesday 5th June 2018
(9 days)


Churchill Extension: Tuesday 5th June — Saturday 9th June (5 days)

Leader: Cal Cuthbert

Group Size Limit: 8

Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and comfortable accommodations

The delightful Sabine's Gull is a high-Arctic breeder that migrates to the Southern Hemisphere to spend the northern winter at sea (Pete Morris)

The delightful Sabine's Gull is a high-Arctic breeder that migrates to the Southern Hemisphere to spend the northern winter at sea (Pete Morris)

The immense province of Manitoba, situated in west-central Canada, has much to offer the visiting birder, for here are seemingly unending prairies and a vast wilderness of forests and lakes that gradually give way to a vast expanse of tundra around Hudson Bay. Manitoba is a classic North American birding destination, with great and mostly easy birding, including a series of specialities, pleasant travelling conditions and comfortable accommodations. We will be visiting the province at the very best time of year, when summer visitors have already arrived yet migration at Churchill is still in full swing. Not only does Manitoba offer very enjoyable birding, but there are plenty of mega-specialities, including Spruce Grouse, Yellow Rail, Thayer’s Gull, Boreal Chickadee, Sprague’s Pipit, Connecticut Warbler, Smith’s Longspur, and Baird’s, Le Conte’s, Nelson’s (Sharp-tailed) and Harris’s Sparrows.

Our journey starts in Winnipeg, from where we will travel to a large bird-rich wetland beside Lake Manitoba before heading westwards into the wide open prairies of southwestern Manitoba. Here, islands of native grassland can still be found amongst an ocean of cultivation and in spring carpets of wildflowers burst into bloom and the songs of prairie birds fill the air. Highlights of this part of the province include Sharp-tailed Grouse, Yellow Rail, Upland Sandpiper, Sprague’s Pipit, Le Conte’s and Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrows, the rare and declining Baird’s Sparrow, and Bobolink and Chestnut-collared Longspurs in their striking summer dress.

Next we will explore Riding Mountain National Park, a raised plateau that harbours a southern outpost of the great boreal forest that stretches right across North America from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Here we will be exposed to one of the richest avifaunas in all Canada, with a host of colourful American wood warblers (including the restricted-range Connecticut Warbler) and an extraordinary variety of other forest species including Hooded Merganser, both Spruce and Ruffed Grouse, the wonderful Great Gray Owl, American Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpeckers, Boreal Chickadee and the huge Evening Grosbeak. Mammal watching is also enjoyable, with Moose, Elk and American Beaver often to be seen.

From Riding Mountain we will return to Winnipeg, where the southern Manitoba

During the optional extension we will visit the famous town of Churchill on Hudson Bay. As one flies northwards, the boreal forest gives way to the tundra and the pack ice of Hudson Bay, the largest enclosed bay in the world that scoops a huge hole out of northern Canada.

The cracking and grinding of the pack ice is the sound that heralds the coming of spring to the remote communities on the shores of Hudson Bay. As the ice breaks up myriads of sculptured ice floes float out to sea or become beached on the miles of deserted shoreline, Belugas arrive to feed in the rich waters and a host of birds return to the harsh but beautiful tundra landscapes of their birth to take advantage of the short arctic summer, or stop by on their way to the still frozen lands even further north.

Churchill, a small port town on Hudson Bay, has become famous amongst birdwatchers for its spectacular arctic migration and rich assemblage of northern breeding species. A chance to explore this wonderful place will be yet another highlight of our visit to Manitoba.

We have timed our visit to coincide with the end of the migration and the start of the breeding season, a time when birding at Churchill is truly unforgettable. As we wander across the bleak but beautiful tundra, enjoying the remarkable tameness of so many arctic birds, we will be wondering how the native Inuit people ever managed to survive in such a hostile environment. Here we will be looking in particular for Long-tailed Jaeger, Sabine’s and Thayer’s Gulls (and if we are in luck, the beautiful Ross’s Gull), Gray Jay, American Tree and Harris’s Sparrows, Smith’s Longspur, Hoary (or Arctic) Redpoll, Pine Grosbeak and Rusty Blackbird, as well as a host of breeding-plumaged shorebirds and many other migrants and summer visitors.

Birdquest has operated tours to Manitoba since 1991.

Churchill-only Option: You may opt to take just the Churchill section as a stand-alone tour.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/motels are of good or medium standard throughout. Road transport is by minibus and roads are mostly good.

Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy, but there are a few moderate grade walks.

Climate: Rather variable. In southern Manitoba it is generally warm (or even hot), dry and sunny but sometimes cool, overcast and rainy. In northern Manitoba conditions will range from cool to distinctly cold at times at Churchill, and dry and sunny periods will be interspersed with overcast and rainy weather (or even some snow or fog).

Bird Photography: Opportunities are good.

Tour Price: £1890, €2230, $2480 Winnipeg/Winnipeg. Single Room Supplement: £320, €377, $419. Deposit: £300, €360, $390.

Churchill Extension: £1590, €1880, $2080 Winnipeg/Winnipeg. Single Room Supplement: £240, €283, $314. Deposit: £500, €600, $650.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, water, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Also includes these flights: Winnipeg-Churchill-Winnipeg.

Please note that the prices are based on the least expensive airfare. If you book after this fare is no longer available, a supplement will apply.

Base prices for this tour are in Canadian Dollars. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = CAD 1.75, €1 = CAD 1.51 and $1 = CAD 1.35.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

The delightful Smith's Longspur is a speciality for this tour (Pete Morris)

The delightful Smith's Longspur is a speciality for this tour (Pete Morris)

Great Gray Owl is always a much-wanted species, and we have a great chance of finding one on this tour (Pete Morris)

Great Gray Owl is always a much-wanted species, and we have a great chance of finding one on this tour (Pete Morris)

The elusive American Three-toed Woodpecker is another tricky species to find in most areas (Pete Morris)

The elusive American Three-toed Woodpecker is another tricky species to find in most areas (Pete Morris)

Moose is one of several mammal species we will hope to see (Pete Morris)

Moose is one of several mammal species we will hope to see (Pete Morris)

Spruce Grouse is an attractive though elusive inhabitant of the boreal forests (Pete Morris)

Spruce Grouse is an attractive though elusive inhabitant of the boreal forests (Pete Morris)

Interesting passerines that we are likely to encounter include Pine Grosbeak (Pete Morris)

Interesting passerines that we are likely to encounter include Pine Grosbeak (Pete Morris)

... Hoary (or Arctic) Redpoll (Pete Morris)

... Hoary (or Arctic) Redpoll (Pete Morris)

... and the range-restricted American Tree Sparrow (Pete Morris)

... and the range-restricted American Tree Sparrow (Pete Morris)

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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