Report # 7 from Jean Iron by satellite phone on 9 June 2006 from Akimiski
Island in James Bay. Akimiski is the largest island in James Bay between
Ontario and Quebec. Jean is a volunteer with the Ontario Ministry of
Natural Resources (OMNR). She was assisting with the web tagging young
geese and shorebird studies. Research on Akimiski is under the direction of
Ken Abraham, Waterfowl and Wetlands Scientist, with OMNR. Recent weather
typical of the north ranged from hot/sticky on Wednesday to heavy
rain/cold/wind Wednesday night (roof leaked) and yesterday and continues
very cold and windy today. Here's a summary of observations for 7 - 9 June.
This report also corrects errors in goose numbers in report # 6. This
report includes both shorebirds and other species because it is also sent
to Ontbirds, provincial listserve of the Ontario Field Ornithologists.
Canada Goose (subspecies interior): Report # 6 on 7 June said there were
"About 50,000 on island". The following from Ken Abraham (OMNR) is a
correction. "The number of geese nesting on Akimiski Island varies quite a
bit, but there are an estimated 8000 pairs of Canada Geese from the
Southern James Bay Population, which migrates and some winter in
southwestern Ontario." Crews found about 550 nests and web tagged about
1000 downy young. Eggs in most Canada Goose nests have hatched and goose
families are gathering near the coast.
Lesser Snow Goose: The following from Ken Abraham (OMNR) is a correction.
"There are an estimated 800-1200 pairs of Lesser Snow Geese nesting on the
island." The colony is on the west side of the island.
Brant: Ken Abraham reports that Akimiski is "a major Brant spring migration
with an estimated 5000-10000 at various times." Brant numbers included
200-300 still around camp on the flats on 8 June.
Migrating Shorebirds: Two distant large flocks (about 100 in each)
migrating southeast to northwest. Too far for identification. They most
likely were one or more species of either Black-bellied Plovers, Ruddy
Turnstones, Red Knots, Dunlins, Semipalmated Sandpipers and/or Sanderlings.
Shorebirds on Tidal Flats: Tides are flowing closer to shore now that the
sea ice has melted back much farther from the island's north coast. 3
Hudsonian Godwits, 50 Black-bellied Plover, 9 Ruddy Turnstones, 3 Dunlin,
Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.
Semipalmated Plover: Two nests. Steve Belfry (OMNR) and Nigel Ward (Trent)
each found nests yesterday.
Marbled Godwit: Breeding habitat is prairie-like coastal marsh between
intertidal mudflats and willow fringe. No nests found yet.
Red Knot: Two observed yesterday close to high tide mark. Very rarely are
large numbers of knots seen at Akimiski during spring migration. However,
up to 15,000 have been seen in a single survey in James Bay of southbound
Red Knots, representing more than 10 to 20% of the entire known wintering
population, fide Guy Morrison and Ken Ross of the Canadian Wildlife Service
Brown Thrasher: Steve Belfry found a singing male this morning (9 June).
Other Observations: Wednesday (7 June) was very warm - Steve Belfry watched
about 20 Arctic Terns catching Nine-spined Sticklebacks (Pungitius
pungitius) (minnows). This morning, Tennessee and Yellow-rumped Warbler
singing near camp.
Ice and snow cover map http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/PS/SNOW/DATA/cursnow_usa.gif
This may be the final report. Some of the goose tagging crew including Jean
were to depart for Moosonee and Timmins at 9 a.m. EDT this morning, but the
Ontario government Twin Otter stayed in Timmins because of bad weather. If
weather improves, they will fly out at 1 p.m. today and others will arrive
including professor Erica Nol of Trent University to work with her students
Nigel Ward and Katie Walker who are studying Semiplamated Plovers and
Marbled Godwits. Northern researchers are accustomed to delays waiting for
aircraft. When I talked to Jean this morning, she was sad to be leaving the
shorebirds and wild coast of James Bay.
Toronto and Minden