Jean Iron's third report for the period 17 - 23 August 2012 from Longridge
Point on the southwestern coast of James Bay in Ontario. See map link below.
Surveys are a cooperative effort of the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS),
Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR).
The new crew comprises Mark Peck (lead), Barb Charlton, Nancy Coston (Moose
Cree First Nation), Mark Dodds (OMNR), Donnell Gasbarrini, Jean Iron,
Shannon Page, Minnie Sutherland (Moose Cree First Nation), Ross Trapper
(Moose Cree First Nation) and Ross Wood. Mark, Mark, Donnell and Shannon
spent their first 5 days at Little Piskwamish before walking to base camp at
JAMES BAY MIGRATION ROUTE: The migration route for many shorebirds departing
James Bay is southeast to the Atlantic coast without much stopping in the
interior because of limited habitat.
SHOREBIRD FOODS: Invertebrate sampling is done once per week along a
transect from the high tide zone out every 100 m for 1 km following the tide
as it ebbs. What are shorebirds eating? Still some unknowns.
RED KNOTS (Longridge): High count of 616 on 19 Aug. 150 on 22 Aug were 50%
juveniles. Knots have been moving around a lot and standing in tight flocks
making it difficult to see and read flags. Little Piskwamish (next
paragraph) normally records higher numbers of knots, but numbers have been
lower at both locations this year.
RED KNOTS (Little Piskwamish): Counts mainly on 3 days 17 - 19 Aug. 250 on
17th, 335 (12 flags) on 18th, 950 (50 flags) on 19th included 35% juveniles.
HISTORICAL NOTE: One of the earliest reports of large numbers of knots using
western James Bay came in 1942 when ornithologists Cliff Hope and Terry
Shortt from the ROM saw large migratory flocks of up to 500 birds between 20
- 25 July 1942 near Little Piskwamish (Auk 61:574, 1944).
SHOREBIRD OBSERVATIONS: Observations refer to Longridge unless noted.
Surveys revolve around high tides when shorebirds are more concentrated and
roosting. As the tide advances shorebirds are pushed ahead of the flow and
as it ebbs fresh feeding habitat is exposed. Peeps especially follow the
ebbing line. Usually only the high count day for the period is reported
Black-bellied Plover: 212 adults in various stages of molt on 19 Aug. First
juveniles should arrive soon.
American Golden-Plover: 13 adults on 21 Aug. Mostly in breeding plumage.
Generally less advanced in prebasic (postbreeding) molt than Black-bellied
Plover. First juveniles should arrive soon.
Semipalmated Plover: 140 mostly juveniles on 23 July.
Killdeer: 21 on 17 Aug, both adults and juveniles.
Spotted Sandpiper: 2 juveniles on 22 Aug, occasional adult still being seen.
Greater Yellowlegs: 477 on 19 Aug, 50% were adults in wing molt.
Lesser Yellowlegs: 70 on 22 Aug, almost all juveniles.
Whimbrel: 20 on 23 Aug, mainly juveniles.
Hudsonian Godwit: 1975 molting adults on 19 Aug, flocks in Vs giving
"godwit" calls as they move south. First juvenile on 20th.
Ruddy Turnstone: 190 on 20 Aug, 10% juveniles.
Sanderling: 134 on 20 Aug, mostly adults.
Semipalmated Sandpiper: 1025 on 23 Aug, virtually 100% juveniles.
Least Sandpiper: 153 juveniles on 21 Aug.
White-rumped Sandpiper: 28,000 molting adults at Little Piskwamish on 19 Aug
and 10,288 adults on 21st at Longridge. Juveniles migrate later.
Baird's Sandpiper: 2 juveniles on 21 and 22 Aug.
Pectoral Sandpiper: 301 on 21 Aug, mostly adults.
Dunlin: 1000 at Little Piskwamish on 19 Aug. 230 adults at Longridge on 22
Aug still mainly in breeding plumage.
Buff-breasted Sandpiper: 6 juveniles on 19 Aug.
Short-billed Dowitcher: 4 juveniles on 21 Aug.
Red-necked Phalarope: 6 at Little Piskwamish on 19 Aug and 2 juveniles at
Longridge on 20th.
LAUGHING GULL: Probably first record for James Bay. One molting into second
winter plumage found by Ross Wood on 17 Aug and also seen by Barb Charlton
and Jean Iron; seen again on 20th.
OTHER BIRDS: Mainly new observations. Black Scoter, 1101 molting adult males
on 21 Aug. Northern Harrier, 6 on 21 Aug. Sharp-shinned Hawk, juvenile on 21
Aug. Red-tailed Hawk, adult on 21 Aug. Rough-legged Hawk, 1 on 19 Aug.
Peregrine Falcon, adult on 19 Aug. Sandhill Crane, 135 on 19 Aug at Little
Piskwamish. Bonaparte's Gull, 1500 mostly adults on 22 Aug, now mainly in
basic plumage but wing and tail molt not completed; southern James Bay is a
staging/molting area for a large number of adult Bonaparte's Gulls. Great
Black-backed Gull, juvenile on 21 Aug. Caspian Tern, 8 adults on 19 Aug, no
juveniles. Black Tern, juvenile on 20 and 22 Aug. Common Tern, 44 on 21 Aug,
no Arctic Terns. Great Horned Owl, hooting regularly at night around camp.
Snowy Owl, one still at tip of Longridge on 23 Aug. Long-eared Owl, heard
near camp; 2 on 20 Aug hunting over an open area in the twilight.
Black-backed Woodpecker, 1 on 21 Aug. Hermit Thrush, 1 on 21 Aug. European
Starling, 1000 at Little Piskwamish. American Pipit, 1 on 21 Aug.
Orange-crowned Warbler, 1 on 20 Aug.
MAMMALS: Gray Wolf on 17 Aug and Striped Skunk on 17th at Little Piskwamish.
MOON JELLYFISH: Large die-off of hundreds washing ashore 18-20 Aug. Some the
size of a dinner plate. These are natural die-offs and part of the annual
Map showing Longridge Point and southern James Bay
Ontario Shorebird Conservation Plan
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: The crew thank OMNR staff Ken Abraham, Kim Bennett, Rod
Brook and Sarah Hagey for logistical support. Jean thanks an anonymous donor
for financial assistance allowing her to make satellite phone calls so
timely reports are available on the Ontbirds and Shorebirds listservs.
Report #4 will be posted with a link to Jean's website photos soon after 2
September when she returns home.