This is Jean Iron's first report for the period July 29 to August 5, 2017
from Longridge Point (51.798942N, 080.69204W) on the southwest coast of
James Bay in Ontario about 910 km (565 mi) north of Toronto. Two other
survey crews are at Little Piskwamish and Northbluff Point. See locations on
map in link #1 below. The vast tidal mudflats make James Bay one of the most
important shorebird stopover sites in North America. Surveys are under the
direction of Christian Friis of the Canadian Wildlife Service (Environment
and Climate Change Canada) with partners Ontario Ministry of Natural
Resources and Forestry, Trent University, and Bird Studies Canada in
conjunction with a larger conservation initiative involving James Bay First
Nations and Nature Canada.
LONGRIDGE CREW: The 6 crew members are Anne Blondin (ON), Mark Dorriesfield
(ON), Dan Froehlich (WA State), Jean Iron (ON), Nicole Richardson (ON), Kiah
SHOREBIRD OBSERVATIONS: 24 species of shorebirds to date. Maximum count
dates for each species listed below. Arrival dates of first juveniles also
reported. Observations pertain only to Longridge Point.
Black-bellied Plover: 23 adults on Aug 3.
American Golden Plover: 1 adult on July 31.
Semipalmated Plover: 72 adults on Aug 2. First juvenile on Aug 4.
Killdeer: 5 on Aug 2, adults and juveniles.
Spotted Sandpiper: 5 juveniles on Aug 4.
Solitary Sandpiper: 1 juvenile on Aug 1.
Greater Yellowlegs: 78 mostly adults on July 31.
Lesser Yellowlegs: 105 on July 31, mostly juveniles on Aug 4.
Whimbrel: 28 on Aug 4, first juvenile on Aug 2.
Marbled Godwit: 4 on Aug 3. First juvenile on August 2. An isolated
population breeds on southern James Bay. This eastern population migrates
southwest to the Gulf of California, not to the Atlantic or Gulf Coasts as
once believed before satellite tracking.
Hudsonian Godwit: 174 on Aug 3. First juvenile on Aug 2. After fattening
most will fly non-stop to South America.
Ruddy Turnstone: 226 adults on Aug 3.
Red Knot: Endangered rufa subspecies. 279 mostly adults on Aug 4. First
juveniles (3) on Aug 3, 6 on Aug 4. Adult knots fatten and undergo variable
amounts of body molt before most migrate non-stop to South America.
Juveniles do not molt while on James Bay.
Sanderling: 18 molting and faded adults on Aug 4.
Semipalmated Sandpiper: 4565 mostly adults on Aug 2. Proportion of juveniles
increasing daily. 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.
Baird's Sandpiper: An adult and a juvenile on Aug 2.
Least Sandpiper: 49 on July 31. Now mainly juveniles.
White-rumped Sandpiper: 3242 molting adults on Aug 2. James Bay may be the
most important fall staging area for this sandpiper in North America. After
fattening most will overfly southern Canada and the United States going to
Pectoral Sandpiper: 670 adults on Aug 4.
Dunlin: Subspecies hudsonia. 138 adults (no juveniles) on Aug 1. This
subspecies molts in the north before migration which accounts for its late
arrival in the south with most arriving there after mid-September.
Short-billed Dowitcher: First juveniles (5) on July 31 and 6 juveniles on
Aug 2. Most adults have departed the north.
Wilson's Snipe: 2 on Aug 4.
Wilson's Phalarope: Adult male on Aug 2. A small isolated population breeds
in the prairie-like marshes of James Bay.
Red-necked Phalarope: One juvenile on Aug 2 and 4th.
HUDSON BAY LOWLANDS REPORT: Rod Brook (MNRF) reports a good breeding season
for Canada Geese (subspecies interior) and Lesser Snow Geese on Akimiski
Island in Nunavut and in northern Ontario. He also reports that Whimbrels
had a good breeding season at Burntpoint on the Hudson Bay Coast. Rod and
Glen Brown (CWS) are now studying the effects of climate change on
permafrost along the coast.
OTHER BIRD HIGHLIGHTS: Black Scoter: 1501 mostly molting adult males on Aug
3, females with broods inland. Northern Goshawk: 1 on Aug 4. YELLOW RAIL: 1
ticking on July 31, dry summer may account for low number. American White
Pelican: 13 on Aug 4. Sandhill Crane: 23 on July 31. Bonaparte's Gull 940
adults on Aug 3 starting to molt hoods plus 20 juveniles. Northern Shrike:
juvenile seen. Canada Jay: 3 regulars. Boreal Chickadee: 3 on July 31.
LeConte's Sparrow: 4 on Aug 3 still singing. Nelson's Sparrow (subspecies
alter): 15 on Aug 2 still singing.
MAMMALS: Harbor Seal on July 31. Beluga (White Whale) dead on beach. Pine
Marten, Striped Skunk and Snowshoe Hare around camp. Black Bear with 2 cubs
on Aug 3. Polar Bears (1 at Longridge last summer) are rare south of
Akimiski Island (see map link) where the world's most southerly population
spends the summer. Jean sent this message the evening of Aug 3, "walking to
cabin from kitchen tent saw bright shining eyes staring at me, not a small
animal." The cabins are protected by an electric fence.
1. Map of southern James Bay shows location of Longridge Point.
2. Population Estimates of North American Shorebirds.
3. Southbound Shorebirds - Annotated Checklist.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Survey camps are rented from the Moose Cree First Nation.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) provides
accommodations in the staff house while crews are in Moosonee. Thanks to Rod
Brook of MNRF for logistical support. MNRF helicopter pilot Dan Ireland
transported crews from Moosonee to and from the camps. Jean thanks an
anonymous donor for financial assistance.
This is Jean's 14th summer surveying birds in the Hudson Bay Lowlands
including her 9th consecutive year surveying shorebirds on James Bay.
Second report in 7 days.