Report # 5 from Jean Iron by satellite phone on 5 June 2006 from Akimiski
Island in James Bay. Akimiski is the largest island between Ontario (much
closer to ON) and Quebec in James Bay. Jean is a volunteer with the Ontario
Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR). Temperatures the last few days have
been warmer than normal. High temperature today at Attawapiskat (nearest
Cree community on ON coast) is forecast to be 20C (normal 15C) with chance
of showers. Low tonight 12C. There's a fair amount of open water along the
north coast of the island where the camp is located, but much of northern
James Bay and Hudson Bay are still largely locked in ice. You can see ice
conditions here http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/PS/SNOW/DATA/cursnow_usa.gif Note
Akimiski Island about half way along west side of James Bay. Although sea
ice is extensive for long time (often until early to mid-July in Hudson
Bay), the land and shallow ponds warm earlier and abound in life. A
helicopter takes crews out to survey sites every day. Jean walks about 10
km/day. At night the "chopper" is kept in a compound surrounded by an
electric fence because a chopper was once badly damaged by a Polar Bear.
Mosquitoes are not a problem along the coast where there's a breeze, but
more so in the willows. These reports are being sent to this listserve
because James Bay and the Hudson Bay Lowlands are of hemispheric importance
to shorebirds. Here's a summary of observations for 2 - 4 June.
Canada Goose: Peak of hatch probably was yesterday. Adults are leading
downy goslings to the "goose lawns" along near shore where they feed and grow.
Brant: 100s of Brant still being seen daily. These birds will breed much
farther north mainly on Arctic islands north of Hudson Bay.
Bald Eagle: Immature seen on 2 June. In recent years, more nonbreeding Bald
Eagles have been summering along the northern coasts of Ontario where they
are preying (in part) on an abundance Snow Geese and Canada Geese.
Semipalmated Plover Research: Nigel Ward, undergraduate student at Trent
University, is collecting data as part of a long term study.
Marbled Godwit: High count of 24 on 3 June; pairs on territories are
calling and doing distraction displays.
Hudsonian Godwit: A pair is likely breeding.
Short-billed Dowitcher: 6 displaying birds on 3 June.
Little Gull: Two adults on 3 June. Most Little Gulls seen on the eastern
Great Lakes probably nest in the vast Hudson Bay Lowland west of James Bay.
The HBL is one of the largest wetlands in the world.
Short-eared Owl: Nest with eggs found on 3 June by Rod Brook. Other
Short-eareds seen daily.
New Record for Nunavut? Northern Mockingbird photographed by Steve Belfry
(OMNR) on 2 June.
Other Birds: Lesser Snow Goose (6 blue morph downies web tagged),
Black-bellied Plover (up to 80/day which will soon leave mainly for the
High Arctic to breed), Ruddy Turnstone, small colony of Arctic Terns,
Hermit Thrush, Savannah Sparrow is commonest sparrow, redpolls - many small
flocks still moving north as of today.
Other Observations: Mourning Cloak (butterfly) on 3 June.
I thank Ken Abraham and Don Sutherland of the Ministry of Natural Resources
for additional information on James Bay.
Update in 2 - 3 days.
Toronto & Minden