This is Jean Iron's second report for the period 5 - 14 August 2015 from
North Point on the southwest coast of James Bay 25 km north of Moosonee,
Ontario, Canada. See location on map in link #1 below. The seven crew
members are Ross Wood (crew leader), Theo Cull, Jacqueline Goldstein,
Danielle Hosick, Jean Iron, Lizzie Moore and Walter Wehtje. Two other survey
crews are at Little Piskwamish and Longridge Point. All three survey sites
are globally significant Important Bird Areas. See North Point IBA in ink
#2. Surveys are under the direction of Christian Friis of the Canadian
Wildlife Service with its partners the Royal Ontario Museum, Ontario
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Bird Studies Canada, Trent
University, Nature Canada and the Moose Cree First Nation.
SHOREBIRD BREEDING SUCCESS in 2015: Reports indicate a poor breeding season
in parts of the Eastern Arctic, which may be more widespread. It was a cold
late start to summer with snow staying late in many areas. Paul Smith (pers.
comm.) of the Canadian Wildlife Service said that shorebird breeding success
was very low at East Bay on Southampton Island, Nunavut, in northern Hudson
Bay. Paul reported "The lowest densities and perhaps the worst hatch success
we've seen since 1999. At nearby Coats Island, the breeding densities were
moderate and breeding success was poor, but not quite as bad. The poor
weather, low numbers of breeding geese, and absence of lemmings made for
very high predation rates. The foxes were working hard and very few of our
shorebird nests survived to hatch."
NORTH POINT OBSERVATIONS: To date 23 shorebird species recorded. Maximum
counts and dates listed below for each species.
HIGH COUNT DAY: 26,055 shorebirds counted on Aug 7 at North Point.
Black-bellied Plover: 650 adults migrating south in big Vs on Aug 11.
American Golden Plover: 3 adults on Aug 11. First juvenile on Aug 13.
Semipalmated Plover: 285 mostly adults on Aug 8. First juvenile on Aug 7.
Killdeer, 6 on Aug 8.
Spotted Sandpiper: 1 on Aug 10.
Solitary Sandpiper: 1 on Aug 7.
Greater Yellowlegs: 385 (60% juv) on Aug 7.
Lesser Yellowlegs: 350 (95% juv) on Aug 10.
Whimbrel: 56 adults on Aug 6. First juvenile on Aug 12.
Hudsonian Godwit: 700 on Aug 6. First juvenile on Aug 6.
Marbled Godwit: 11 mostly juveniles on Aug 9.
Ruddy Turnstone: 81 adults on Aug 10.
Red Knot: 510 adults flying south on Aug 11.
Sanderling: 22 molting adults on Aug 7.
Semipalmated Sandpiper: 12,050 (20% juv) on Aug 7. On Aug 6 an adult
Parasitic Jaeger chased a Semipalmated Sandpiper which escaped.
Least Sandpiper: 950 juveniles on Aug 12. 772 juveniles on Aug 8 in grass
with small ponds refreshed by tide and rain. Very tame and curious. Jean has
never seen such high numbers of juveniles as this year.
White-rumped Sandpiper: 12,000 adults on Aug 7. Juveniles first arrive
somewhat later in August and with most coming in September.
Pectoral Sandpiper: 798 adults on Aug 6. First juvenile on Aug 13.
Dunlin: 73 adults on Aug 10.
Buff-breasted Sandpiper: 1 juvenile on Aug 9 found by Ross Wood.
Short-billed Dowitcher: 1 adult on Aug 8, this species doesn't stage on
James Bay with most going directly to the East Coast.
Wilson's Snipe: 10 on Aug 7. Juvenile on 9 Aug.
Red-necked Phalarope: 1 juvenile on Aug 13.
SHOREBIRD FOODS: Mud samples taken along 13 transects for shorebird food
analysis. Also took blood samples to determine carbon/nitrogen ratios, which
also will give information on diet. Previous studies indicated that
shorebirds in Hudson and James Bays feed on the abundant larvae of the
bivalve Macoma balthica (clam), and in southern James Bay, the gastropod
Hydrobia minuta (snail), as well as a variety of crustaceans (shrimps/crabs
and relatives), worms and dipteran (fly) larvae (Ontario Shorebird
Conservation Plan 2003).
NANO-TAGGING: Nano-tags placed on 5 priority species: Semipalmated
Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Dunlin, Hudsonian Godwit and Red Knot.
Tags placed on light weight (low fat) birds rather than heavy individuals to
determine how long they stay to fatten before departing James Bay.
OTHER BIRD SIGHTINGS: New information since last report: Canada Goose, 604
on Aug 8, likely molt migrants subspecies maxima. Snow Goose, 4 (2 ad & 2
juv) blue morphs on Aug 8. Northern Shoveler, 1 on Aug 7. Green-winged Teal,
69 on Aug 8. Northern Pintail, 55 on Aug 7. American Black Duck, 21 on Aug
8. Mallard 210 on Aug 8. Common Goldeneye, 30 on Aug 7. Common Loon, 3 on
Aug 6. Double-crested Cormorant, 1 on Aug 9. Sandhill Crane, 52 on Aug 8 &
9. American White Pelican, 55 on Aug 5. American Bittern, 2 on Aug 11 and
13. Ruffed Grouse, 1 on Aug 7. Bald Eagle, 3 on Aug 10. Osprey, 2 on Aug 8.
Northern Harrier, 4 on Aug 12. American Kestrel, 1 on Aug 13 in aerial
battle with a Merlin. Merlin, 1 on Aug 7 and 13. Yellow Rail, 5 singing
(clicking) on Aug 8. Sora, 3 juveniles 12/13 Aug. Great-Black-backed Gull, 1
adult on Aug 8. Ring-billed Gull, 100 mostly adults on Aug 8. Herring Gull,
2 fresh very dark juveniles on Aug 11. Bonaparte's Gull, 450 adults and 4
juv on Aug 11. Little Gull, 5 (2 ad, 1 first summer/second winter, 2 juv) on
Aug 10, most Little Gulls in North America probably breed in Hudson Bay
Lowlands. Caspian Tern, 2 on Aug 7. Common Tern, 121 on Aug 13 with adults
feeding 17 juveniles. Great Horned Owl, 1 at camp hooting 12/13 Aug.
Short-eared Owl, 1 seen on Aug 7 and 12, 1 heard on Aug 9. Common Raven,
Gray Jay, 4 (2 ad/2 juv) daily, storing Starry False Solomon Seal
(Maianthemum stellatum) berries which are common at camp, 5 Gray Jays taking
handouts at camp on Aug 14. Winter Wren, 1 daily at camp. Yellow-bellied
Sapsucker, 1 on Aug 14. Eastern Kingbird, 1 by Ross Wood on Aug 11 and 12.
Olive-sided Flycatcher, 4 on Aug 12. Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, 1 on Aug 7.
Alder Flycatcher, 1 on Aug 12. Tree Swallow, 115 on Aug 7. Red-breasted
Nuthatch, 4 on Aug 8. Cedar Waxwing, 22 on Aug 8. Winter Wren, 2 daily at
camp. Swainson's Thrush, 3 on Aug 13. American Robin, 50 on Aug 2. Gray
Catbird, 1 on Aug 3. Brown Thrasher, 1 on Aug 2. Yellow-rumped Warbler, 15
on Aug 6. Cape May Warbler, 3 on Aug 12. Black-and-White Warbler, 1 on Aug 8
and 14. Tennessee Warbler, 10 on Aug 8 near camp feeding young. Wilson's
Warbler, 4 on Aug 7. American Redstart, 1 on Aug 12. Clay-colored Sparrow, 2
on Aug 7 and 8. Le Conte's Sparrow, 15 on Aug 7. Nelson's Sparrow
(subspecies alter), 11 on Aug 7. Lincoln's Sparrow, 1 on Aug 7. Swamp
Sparrow, 2 on 9 Aug. Savannah Sparrow, 60 on Aug 7. Dark-eyed Junco, 1 on
Aug 10. Bobolink: 1 on Aug 13. Rusty Blackbird, 2 on Aug 13. Purple Finch, 4
on Aug 8. White-winged Crossbill, 3 on Aug 7. Common Redpoll, 8 on Aug 10.
1. Map of southern James Bay showing location of North Point
2. North Point Important Bird Area
3. Population Estimates of North American Shorebirds 2012
4. Ontario Shorebird Conservation Plan
5. Southbound Shorebirds in Ontario
WESTERN HEMISPHERE SHOREBIRD RESERVE: The James Bay surveys are vital for
the conservation of critical shorebird habitat. The hope is that James Bay
or portions thereof will be designated a Western Hemisphere Shorebird
Reserve of Hemispheric Importance. "These sites act as staging, nesting or
breeding grounds for at least 500,000 shorebirds annually, or at least 30%
of the biogeographic population of any species." James Bay greatly exceeds
the minimum criteria for a "Hemispheric Importance" designation.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: We appreciate the information provided by Paul Smith
(Canadian Wildlife Service), Ken Abraham (retired Ontario Ministry of
Natural Resources and Forestry), Don Sutherland (Natural Heritage
Information Centre, Ontario) and Mike Burrell (Bird Studies Canada). Survey
camps are rented from the Moose Cree First Nation. The Ontario Ministry of
Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF) provides accommodations in the staff
house while crews are in Moosonee. Thanks to Rod Brook, Sarah Hagey and Kim
Bennett of OMNRF for logistical support. The research and data collected
from these surveys would not be possible without the many hours of dedicated
volunteer effort. Jean thanks an anonymous donor for financial assistance.
Jean is expected home on Saturday evening. She'll do a summary report #3
with photos of this summer's surveys in 5 - 10 days.