Hi there, I am participating in Manitoba's Breeding Bird Atlas and have the south half of the Netly Libau Marsh at the south end of L Winnipeg as one of my study areas. I have been casually monitoring the north end as well as I have to boat through it to get to the south end. I would be more than happy to monitor the marsh for you as you see fit. I live right next to it. My observations so far: There are huge, big water areas within the marsh there's a lot of shoreline degradation along all creeks and channels within. The province allowed Hydro to dam the Nelson River in the north (the lake's outflow to the Hudson Bay) so water levels in the lake and marsh are high in both the spring and fall. The marsh does not get to drain down, unless, of course, there's a good drought, hence no exposed mud and no marsh plant germination and re-generation. Treed river and creek banks are shrinking. Fall windstorms on the lake push vast amounts of water into the marsh eroding the banks, trees fall in and are then washed out into the lake during spring flood. Even mild summer wind tides can raise the marsh water levels several feet making ground nesting on the banks dangerous in my opinion. I found no evidence of nesting waterfowl along the banks within the marsh itself and little evidence of waterfowl period. But then again, this year was my first year Atlasing out there and the marsh has yielded up only a few of it's 'secrets' so far. I am confident, though, that the next 4 of years Atlasing will provide the correct picture. I did, however, find a family of coyotes mid marsh. I joked on my Comment's page for the Atlas that they'd probably have no trouble sniffing out NE (nest egg) and NY (nest young) on those shrinking banks and that I would get a few breeding evidence forms out to them. For the most part, I have observed that it's the areas around the marsh and the creeks and rivers draining into the marsh that hold the potential for waterfowl breeding success. I have observed, too, that agricultural practices have eliminated most of the beaver dams and ponds thereby eliminating safe water where some waterfowl nest success could happen. Another one of my birding squares at the sw corner of L Winnipeg has shown me that the only safe water for breeding waterfowl in that particular square is sewage lagoons - believe it or not. Everything else has been drained, or if there are swamps that sit too low to be drained, they dry up. I've been thinking that the only way to restore wetlands on agriculturally drained land is to hire new beavers - excavators. Dig the swamps deeper, let them fill up and whatever spills over simply spills over into the existing ditching. At least there'd be some safe water that way. It'd be win-win in my opinion if there was some money with which to do it. The farmers would still have ditches and their drained land and the birds would have their ponds. For example: The province needed clay for the foundation of Hwy #225 back in the 60's. They bought the clay leaving a huge, football sized hole in the ground. It's a 50 year pond now and has good re-vegitation all around it providing tremendous dickie bird nesting sites. It fills naturally and is also a marvellous staging area for migrating waterfowl. I counted 35 Mallards, 47 Ring-necked ducks, 36 Wigeons, 101 Wood ducks, and a dozen or so each of Scaup, Buffflehead and Redheads, etc, using the pond 3 springs ago all at the same time within a two week staging time. Back to the marsh: I know that were the marsh to have water controls, it's interior nesting habitat would come back and I've heard that the province is funding DU to perhaps do some of that now. That will be wonderful! The treed, creek and riverbanks within the marsh are still holding veeries, warblars, kindbirds etc... I will be doing point counts throughout those spiderwebbed areas in the spring. Again, if you are looking for a monitor I will be more than happy to do it for you. I'll be out there Atlasing for the province for the next for years. I could combine it with the monitoring you'd require. Hope this can help, Charlie McPherson Whytwold, MB
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