This is Jean Iron's first report for the period 31 July to 4 August 2015
from North Point (Lat 51.489737N, Lon -080.447598W) on the southwest coast
of James Bay in Ontario, Canada. I get her messages by DeLorme inReach
two-way satellite communicator with GPS. North Point is 25 km north of
Moosonee. See location on map in link #1 below. The vast tidal mudflats and
prairie-like coastal marshes make James Bay one of the most important
shorebird staging areas in North America. 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. Surveys are under the direction of Christian
Friis of the Canadian Wildlife Service with 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 OBSERVATIONS: 19 species to date. Maximum counts and dates for
each species reported below. This report pertains only to North Point.
Black-bellied Plover: 33 adults on Aug 4.
American Golden Plover: 1 adult on Aug 4.
Semipalmated Plover: 90 mostly adults on Aug 3.
Spotted Sandpiper: 1 on Aug 3.
Solitary Sandpiper: 1 on Aug 3.
Greater Yellowlegs: 185 on Aug 4 (20% juv).
Lesser Yellowlegs: 242 (60% juv) on Aug 3. Also flocks of yellowlegs,
probably both species, observed flying high and calling probably departing
Whimbrel: 64 adults on Aug 1.
Marbled Godwit: 34 on Aug 3. Three juveniles on Aug 1. A local pair on
territory was calling at observers. Ross Wood saw an adult and 1 young. A
isolated population breeds on southern James Bay. Surprisingly, the James
Bay population migrates southwest to the Gulf of California.
Hudsonian Godwit: 390 molting and fattening adults on Aug 4. Most will fly
non-stop to South America.
Ruddy Turnstone: 35 adults on Aug 4.
RED KNOT: Endangered rufa subspecies. 107 molting adults on Aug 3. James Bay
knots traditionally concentrate at a few favoured stopover locations with
smaller numbers seen elsewhere. North Point normally has small numbers
compared to the much larger numbers at traditional sites such as Little
Piskwanish and Longridge Point. Knots fatten and undergo variable amounts of
body molt before most make the long non-stop flight to South America.
Sanderling: 8 molting adults on Aug 1.
Semipalmated Sandpiper: 6,150 on Aug 3 (5% juv). They fatten over 2-3 weeks
before making a non-stop flight of several days to northern South America.
James Bay and the Bay of Fundy are the two most important stopover sites for
southbound Semipalmated Sandpipers in North America. Flocks of peeps,
probably Semipalmated and White-rumped Sandpipers, seen flying high probably
leaving James Bay.
Least Sandpiper: 44 on Aug 4. Percentage of juveniles increasing daily.
White-rumped Sandpiper: 10,000 molting adults on Aug 4. James Bay is the
most important fall staging area for this sandpiper in North America. After
fattening most overfly southern Canada and the United States going to South
Pectoral Sandpiper: 165 adults on Aug 4.
Dunlin: Subspecies hudsonia. 85 molting adults on Aug 4.
Wilson's Snipe: 2 on Aug 4.
WHOOSH: Jean described the "great feeling in the rain at high tide" while
surveying with Jacqueline on August 4 as "1000s of shorebirds whooshed past
NANO-TAGGING SHOREBIRDS: A system of nano-tagging shorebirds begun in 2013
at James Bay and Motus tracking towers follows migrating shorebirds such as
Semipalmated Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Dunlin, Hudsonian Godwit and
Red Knot. Nano-tags are tiny and their signals can be received within a
15-20 km radius of a tower. Tags are placed on shorebirds when banded and
each tag has a different frequency. There are several towers along southern
James Bay and more along Lakes Ontario and Erie, St. Lawrence River and East
OTHER BIRD SIGHTINGS: Canada Goose, 420 on Aug 2. American Wigeon. American
Black Duck, 12 on Aug 2. Mallard, 143 on Aug 3. Northern Pintail, 1 on Aug
2. Green-winged Tail, 23 on Aug 2. Common Loon, 3 on Aug 3. Double-crested
Cormorant, 1 on Aug 1. Sandhill Crane, 32 on July 31. American Bittern, 2 on
Aug 2. Northern Harrier, 1 female on Aug 2. Peregrine Falcon, 1 on Aug 4
flushed a flock of 7000 roosting shorebirds at high tide. Yellow Rail, 2
ticking in coastal marshes on Aug 3. Little Gull, 1 adult on Aug 2, most
Little Gulls in North America probably breed in Hudson Bay Lowlands. Common
Tern, 3 on Aug 3. Arctic Tern, 1 on Aug 3. Norther Flicker, 1 on 2/3 Aug.
Olive-sided Flycatcher. Alder Flycatcher, 3 on Aug 2. Tree Swallow, 2 on Aug
2. Cedar Waxwing, 15 on Aug 3. Swainson's Thrush. American Robin, 50 on Aug
2. Gray Jay, family group of 2 adults and 2 juveniles taking handouts at
camp - they love oatmeal. Gray Catbird, 1 on Aug 3. Brown Thrasher, 1 on Aug
2. Tennessee Warbler. Le Conte's Sparrow, 4 on Aug 2. Nelson's Sparrow, 13
on Aug 2 (subspecies alter, previously spelled alterus). Clay-colored
Sparrow, 1 on Aug 1. Savannah Sparrow, 105 on Aug 3. White-throated Sparrow,
40 on Aug 2. Fox Sparrow. Red-winged Blackbird, 800 on Aug 2. Red Crossbill,
3 on July 31, White-winged Crossbill, 1 on Aug 3. Common Redpoll, 8 on Aug
MAMMALS: Beluga (White Whale), 2 at high tide on Aug 1. Black Bears near
camp eating buffaloberries (Shepherdia canadensis). Polar Bears rarely occur
south of Akimiski Island where a sizable population spends the summer. Pine
Marten on Aug 1. Jumping Mouse (more likely Meadow than Woodland). Snowshoe
Hare, adults and young. Meadow Voles and shrews also observed.
1. Map of southern James Bay showing location of North Point
2. Population Estimates of North American Shorebirds 2012
3. Ontario Shorebird Conservation Plan
WESTERN HEMISPHERE SHOREBIRD RESERVE: The hope is that James Bay or portions
of 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: 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 data
collected on these surveys would not be possible without the many hours of
dedicated volunteer effort. Jean thanks an anonymous donor for financial
Next report in 6-7 days.