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SHOREBIRDS  August 2014

SHOREBIRDS August 2014

Subject:

James Bay Shorebirds - Little Piskwamish Report #2

From:

Jean Iron <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Jean Iron <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 11 Aug 2014 14:21:27 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (180 lines)

This is Jean Iron's second report for the period 4 - 10 August 2014 from
Little Piskwamish Point on the southwestern coast of James Bay in Ontario,
Canada. See map link #2 below. Surveys are conducted under the direction of
Christian Friis of the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) and Mark Peck of the
Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and their partners the Ontario Ministry of
Natural Resources (OMNR), Bird Studies Canada, Nature Canada and Moose Cree
First Nation. The Little Piskwamish crew comprises Mark Peck (crew leader),
James Kennerley from UK, Brendan Kelly from NL, Jean Iron, Eleanor Zurbrigg,
Doug McRae, Lisa Pollock and Hellen Fu. Darrell Isaac and Jeffrey Isaac from
Moose Factory First Nation arrived on August 4 to assist with the survey.
Two other crews are based at North Point and Longridge Point.

JAMES BAY: Ontario's coastline of James Bay measures about 560 kilometres or
350 miles. The west coast is extremely flat and intersected by several large
rivers and many streams. The southern coast is characterized by long narrow
promontories, wide tidal flats, shoals, sandy bays, extensive brackish
marshes and pools. It's a shorebird paradise of great conservation concern.

SHOREBIRD MIGRATION CHRONOLOGY: Most (not all) southbound shorebirds migrate
in three waves: adult females first, adult males second, juveniles last.

SHOREBIRD OBSERVATIONS: The maximum counts and dates for each species are
reported below. Reports pertain to Little Piskwamish at Lat 51.655515 N, Lon
-80.57167 W.

THREE HIGHEST TOTAL DAILY COUNTS: 18635 shorebirds on July 31, 15530 on Aug
3 and 13812 on Aug 4.

Black-bellied Plover: 57 molting adults on Aug 6.

Semipalmated Plover: 60 adults on Aug 6, 1 juvenile on 9th.

Killdeer: 4 adults and 3 juveniles on Aug 6.

Spotted Sandpiper: first juvenile on Aug 5 and 2 juveniles on 8th.

Solitary Sandpiper: 4 adults on Aug 4 and 2 juveniles on 5th.

Greater Yellowlegs: 270 on Aug 6, 75% juveniles on 9th. Unlike most
shorebirds, some Greaters undergo both body and wing molt at James Bay
before continuing migration.

Lesser Yellowlegs: 137 on Aug 6. Almost all now are juveniles.

Whimbrel: 9 on Aug 3.

Hudsonian Godwit: 167 molting adults on Aug 4. One red flag OEM from Chile
on Aug 5. Another with red flag JK from Chile on Aug 9. Most adult Hudsonian
Godwits molt body feathers while at James Bay before departing in late Aug
and early Sept with most going nonstop to South America.

Marbled Godwit: 1 juvenile on Aug 7 and 2 juveniles on 8th. The estimated
disjunct James Bay population is 2000 birds. Most adults depart in late
July. The wintering grounds of James Bay birds were unknown until recently.
Birds fitted with satellite transmitters on Akimiski Island in 2007 and 2008
went southwest to winter along the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez) in
Mexico. Previously it was thought that James Bay godwits wintered on the
south Atlantic Coast of the United States, which is much closer to James
Bay.

Ruddy Turnstone: 23 on Aug 6.

RED KNOT: Highest daily count was 1670 adults on Aug 6. First 3 juvenile
knots on Aug 8. Flag re-sightings are currently about 1400 so Mark Peck is
very happy. Knot numbers this year are similar to most previous summers.
Mark estimates that about 5000 adult knots are using Little Piskwamish this
summer making it one of the most important southbound sites for the
endangered rufa subspecies in North America. One knot with a white flag ALH
was banded on the Mingan Archipelago on the north shore of the Gulf of St.
Lawrence in Quebec. Mingan is the other major southbound staging area for
knots in Eastern Canada, but there is virtually no mixing of birds between
there and James Bay. The knots are fat and in excellent condition. They will
soon fly nonstop to South America. Knots that fail to gain adequate weight
suffer reduced survival.

Sanderling: 4 molting adults on Aug 4.

Semipalmated Sandpiper: 7000 on Aug 4. Very few juveniles to date but
increasing. Both adults and juveniles are being fitted with nano-tags. This
peep has declined very significantly in recent years. See SHOREBIRD
CONSERVATION NOTE below.

Least Sandpiper: 170 on 7th. Almost all were juveniles. The switchover from
adults to juveniles was rapid.

White-rumped Sandpiper: 5900 molting and fattening adults on Aug 6.

Pectoral Sandpiper: 100 on Aug 8.

Dunlin: Dunlin 800 adults on Aug 8. Thousands of Dunlins (subspecies
hudsonia) stage in James Bay. Adults undergo a complete (wings/tail/body)
prebasic molt and juveniles undergo a partial (body) preformative molt
before both age classes resume migration about mid-September and later. This
is the reason that North American Dunlins are very rare south of the
subarctic until much later than most other shorebirds.

Stilt Sandpiper: 1 juvenile on 9 Aug.

Short-billed Sandpiper: 1 juvenile 9 Aug.

Wilson's Phalarope: 1 juvenile on Aug 6 and 9th. Small numbers breed in the
vast prairie-like marshes of James Bay.

Red-necked Phalarope: 4 juveniles on Aug 7.

OTHER BIRDS: Canada Goose, 460 flying over on Aug 5. American Wigeon, 5 on
Aug 4. American Black Duck, 98 on Aug 6. Mallard, 82 on Aug 8. Northern
Pintail, 105 on Aug 7. Green-winged Teal, 56 on Aug 6. Ring-necked Duck, 1
on Aug 6. Scaup species, 6 on Aug 1. Common Goldeneye, 18 on Aug 6. Hooded
Merganser, 5 on Aug 9. Common Merganser, 2 on Aug 4. Red-breasted Merganser,
1 on Aug 7. Black Scoter, large raft of 4000 mostly molting males on Aug 5.
Common Loon, 6 on Aug 6. Pied-billed Grebe, 1 juvenile on Aug 6. American
White Pelican, 16 on Aug 4. American Bittern, 2 on Aug 6. Great Blue Heron,
1 juvenile. Osprey, 4 on Aug 6. Bald Eagle, a few adults and immatures in
area. Northern Goshawk, 2 adults on Aug 5. Merlin, 3 on Aug 6. Yellow Rail,
3 on Aug 8. Sora, 2 on Aug 5. Sandhill Crane, 28 on Aug 7. Bonaparte's Gull,
631 mostly molting adults, juveniles increasing. Little Gull, 2 molting
adults on Aug 10, 1 molting to second winter plumage on Aug 7 and 8. Great
Horned Owl, 1 heard on Aug 7 and 8th. Long-eared Owl, 1 heard on Aug 5 and
6th. Common Raven, 22 on Aug 5. American Crow, 5 on Aug 6. Black-capped
Chickadee, 4 on Aug 3. Boreal Chickadee, 3 on Aug 8. Horned Lark, 1 on Aug 7
and 8th. Tree Swallow, 66 on Aug 4. Alder Flycatcher, 8 on Aug 4. Nashville
Warbler, 1 on Aug 4. Tennessee Warbler, 3 on Aug 4. Yellow-rumped Warbler,
80 on Aug 6. Palm Warbler, 1 on Aug 4. American Redstart, 1 on Aug 9. Common
Yellowthroat, 4 on Aug 3. Wilson's Warbler, 4 on Aug 6. Northern
Waterthrush, 7 on Aug 4. Yellow Warbler, 12 on Aug 4. Savannah Sparrow, 65
on Aug 7. Le Conte's, 3 on Aug 4 - 7th. Nelson's Sparrow (daily) with 4 on
Aug 8. Fox Sparrow, 1 on Aug 4. Song Sparrow, 40 on Aug 6. Lincoln's
Sparrow, 10 on Aug 4. Swamp Sparrow, 13 on Aug 6. Dark-eyed Junco, 2 on Aug
9. Red-winged Blackbird, 200 on Aug 8. Rusty Blackbird, 1 on Aug 6.
White-winged Crossbill, 145 on Aug 1, 105 on Aug 4, 80 on 8th. Common
Redpoll, 3 juveniles on Aug 6. Pine Siskin, 2 on Aug 5.

SHOREBIRD CONSERVATION NOTE: I've copied the following email from Ken
Abraham (emeritus OMNR Research Scientist) with his permission. "See the
article linked below on tracking Semipalmated Sandpipers with geolocators.
Note that the bird highlighted in the article spent a month (21 July to 22
August 2013) in James Bay on its southern migration and a week (2 June to 10
June 2014) in James Bay on its spring migration. The other significant (and
remarkable, almost unbelievable) finding is that it flew non-stop for 6 days
from James Bay to Brazil (i.e., it did not go to the Bay of Fundy) which
underlines even more the importance of the James Bay coastline for feeding
and energy acquisition. It's not often we get this kind of information on
the conservation importance of a site before there is an imminent threat of
its loss due to some development. We should make the most of this
information in our quest to get the area designated as a protected area."
See link. 
#1. http://bit.ly/1urNasi

Map of survey locations. 
#2. http://www.jeaniron.ca/2014/JB14/map.htm

Population Estimates of North American Shorebirds 2012. 
#3. http://www.jeaniron.ca/2013/ShorebirdPop2012.pdf

Southbound Shorebirds: Some basic facts. 
#4. http://www.ofo.ca/site/page/view/articles.southboundshorebirds

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: The Western James Bay Shorebird Survey is a cooperative
effort of the Canadian Wildlife Service, Royal Ontario Museum , Ontario
Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR), Bird Studies Canada, Nature Canada and
Moose Cree First Nation. Survey camps are rented from the Moose Cree First
Nation. The OMNR provides accommodations in the staffhouse while crews are
in Moosonee. Thanks to Rod Brook, Sarah Hagey and Kim Bennett of OMNR for
logistical support. This project would not be possible without the many long
days of dedicated volunteer effort. Jean thanks an anonymous donor for
financial assistance to the program.

NOTE: This is Jean's sixth consecutive year surveying southbound shorebirds
on James Bay. Little Piskwamish is a new location for her. The crew will be
coming out on Wednesday August 13 (weather permitting for chopper) except
for Lisa Pollock who's staying with next crew and Doug McRae who's going to
North Point with a new crew there. The crew hopes to get out early enough to
take the train on Wednesday from Moosonee to Cochrane. Then the 8 hour drive
home on Thursday. Jean will post a third report with a link to survey photos
on her website within 10 days.

Ron Pittaway
Toronto, Ontario
Canada

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