Snipewinnow Marsh

photo of a Common Snipe © Lang ElliottIn late May 2005, Ted Mack and I visited Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba. The park is an island of wilderness rising out of the prairie landscape, where habitats of eastern, western and northern Canada meet and mingle into a pattern of forest, grassland, hill and valley.

In dawn’s early light, Ted and I converged upon a huge marshy area surrounded by forest. Full of beaver ponds and alder patches, the marsh was home to a large variety of species. Ted ventured way out into the wetland and snagged a wonderful dawn chorus. Most impressive are the eerie winnows of a Common Snipe, a sound made by air moving through the outspread tail as the snipe swoops downward then upward in fight. Listen also for the drums of a Ruffed Grouse and the songs of numerous songbirds, including: Marsh Wren, Common Yellowthroat, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Mourning Dove, Swamp Sparrow. A Pied-billed Grebe sounds off near the end. What an incredibly rich and varied soundscape:

Dawn chorus in a northern marsh with lots of Common Snipe winnows. 6am, 30 May 2005. Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba. Recorded by Lang Elliott.

I can’t wait to get back up to Manitoba, not only to pay my respects to Riding Mountain, but also to explore the abundance of pothole ponds to the south of the park in the Minnedosa area. And then there is Poverty Plains, a great spot for finding hawk nests and the home to western species such as Brewer’s Blackbird. Have any of you ever been to any of these places?


  1. So much live energy, so concentrated a capture, and yet many richly varied voices and sounds remain clearly distinct. Listening I can not help but see, smell, and feel the entire experience, at least in imagination. Such a full slice of life. Delicious!

  2. Yes! That’s my stomping grounds! I love this blog, and it’s so neat to listen to your Manitoba recordings! Poverty Plains is GREAT for Upland Sandpipers and Grasshopper Sparrows. You can’t go anywhere in the southwest corner of the province without seeing Brewers Blackbirds, they are everywhere! I know a lot of people have had good luck in the Minnedosa area. I never have, but haven’t spent much time there – most of my birding trips are to the southwest. 🙂

  3. Hey Lang:
    Wonderful sounds. Just had to check out what you were up to these days.
    Love the eastern Marsh Wren. Takes me back to the potholes of North Dakota and Saskatchewan.
    Spring is almost here!
    Happy Listening to you . . .Don

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