Print

Print


"The James Bay Coast is one of the seven ecological
wonders of the world. It is a migration highway for shorebirds." Guy Morrison,
Senior Shorebird Research Scientist, Canadian Wildlife Service.

 

This is Jean Iron's second report for the period 7 - 13
August 2016 from Longridge Point (Lat 51.798681N, Lon 80.691619W) on the
southwest coast of James Bay in Ontario. Longridge is about 910 km (565 mi)
north of Toronto. It is one of four shorebird camps this summer. See locations
on map in link #1 below. 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 Moose Cree First Nation. Shorebird population
declines and the need to protect crucial intertidal habitats are driving
research.

 

LONGRIDGE CREW: The seven crew members are Allie Anderson
(Crew leader, Trent University, Peterborough ON), Barbara Charlton (ON), Dan
Froehlich (Washington State), Kathryn Hoo (ON), Jean Iron (ON), Amie MacDonald
(ON) and Felicia Sanders (South Carolina).

 

SHOREBIRD OBSERVATIONS: 24 species. Reports are from
Longridge unless otherwise stated. High counts and dates for each species
listed below. Large increases in juveniles of many species. Adults of many
species have departed James Bay.

 

Black-bellied Plover: 28 adults on Aug 10. Juveniles
begin arriving in early September.

 

American Golden-Plover: 4 adults on Aug 10. Juveniles
begin arriving in early September.

 

Semipalmated Plover: 368 on Aug 7, many juveniles by
12th.

 

Killdeer: 10 on Aug 12.

 

Spotted Sandpiper: 7 on Aug 9, all juveniles now.

 

Greater Yellowlegs: 171 on Aug 8, 50% juveniles. Many
adults still on 12th. Adults often undergo wing molt on James Bay.

 

Lesser Yellowlegs: 279 on Aug 10, all juveniles.

 

Whimbrel: 25 on Aug 9, all juveniles.

 

Marbled Godwit: 5 on Aug 8, all juveniles.

 

Hudsonian Godwit: 336 molting and fattening adults on Aug
12. Juvenile numbers increasing. Adults will depart James Bay from now to early
September. Juveniles depart in September and October. 

 

Ruddy Turnstone: 577 adults on Aug 8. First juvenile on
10th.

 

RED KNOT: The latest population estimate for the rufa
subspecies is around 42,000 (Mark Peck, Royal Ontario Museum).There were 883
molting adults on Aug 7. First juvenile on 8th. A Red Knot with an orange flag
TY banded in Argentina in March 2006 was re-sighted by Kathryn Hoo on 27 July
2016 at Longridge. In 2010 TY stayed for 18 days at Longridge. 

 

RED KNOT AERIAL SURVEY: Guy Morrison and Ken Ross
conducted a 4-day helicopter survey (August 9-12) of the Ontario coast of James
Bay from the Quebec border to the Ekwan River and the coastline of Akimiski
Island, Nunavut. The total estimate of Red Knots was 10,500 mostly adults. This
represents 25% of the rufa population. Areas of concentration included south of
Little Piskwamish and in a bay several bays north of Longridge Point. The
helicopter was carrying a nanotag receiver that detected a lot of signals.
We’ll have to wait for information to be downloaded to know the species of
shorebirds.

 

CURLEW SANDPIPER: One molting adult on Aug 11 at Little
Piskwamish South. Found by Ross Wood.

 

Sanderling: 38 molting and faded adults on Aug 11.
Juveniles normally arrive mid-August into September.

 

Dunlin: 55 molting adults on Aug 9. 

 

Least Sandpiper: 101 on Aug 7, almost all juveniles.

 

PEEPS: 10,017 on Aug 7 and 4525 on 11th, mostly
Semipalmated and White-rumped Sandpipers.

 

White-rumped Sandpiper: 2794 on Aug 9, all molting
adults. Most juveniles begin arriving in September. 

 

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: 2 adults on Aug 8 (photos).

 

Pectoral Sandpiper: 156 almost all adults on Aug 7. Most
juveniles arrive after mid-Aug.

 

Semipalmated Sandpiper: 2614 on Aug 7. Large overnight
turnover on Aug 6 and 7 from adults to juveniles.

 

Short-billed Dowitcher: 5 juveniles on Aug 7. Adults have
departed the breeding grounds.

 

Wilson's Snipe: 8 on Aug 9.

 

Wilson's Phalarope: 1 juvenile on Aug 9. A small disjunct
population breeds in the prairie-like coastal marshes.

 

Red-necked Phalarope: 3 juveniles on Aug 9.

 

PRAIRIE FALCON UPDATE: The Prairie Falcon previously
reported as an adult is a juvenile. Jerry Liguori, a leading authority on North
American raptors, examined a photo. Jerry stated that it is a “juvenile only a
few months old”. The Prairie Falcon was seen again on August 6 at Longridge and
presumably the same individual was at Little Piskwamish South on August 10 and
11. If accepted by the OBRC, this will be the second record for the Ontario
section of James Bay. Ken Abraham (pers. comm.) commented that "We have a
sight record of a Prairie Falcon on Akimiski Island in 1998 by Jeff Gleason,
who is very familiar with the species as he grew up in the US Great Plains.
Because there were no photos, we have not "pushed" the record, but
given the recent sightings it is probably good. I have a paragraph from Jeff
somewhere in my files." Note that Akimiski Island is part of Nunavut, not
Ontario.

 

SOME OTHER BIRDS: Snow Goose: 38 mostly blue morph birds
on Aug 11. American Black Duck, 16 on Aug 3. White-winged Scoter: 2 on Aug 7
and 1 on 11th. Black Scoter, 885 mostly molting males on Aug 11. American
Bittern: 1 on 8 and 10 Aug. American White Pelican: 20 on Aug 8. YELLOW RAIL: 5
on Aug 11, still ticking loudly all night on 12th. Sora: 5 on Aug 7.
Bonaparte's Gull: 2049 on Aug 10, low number of juveniles. Little Gull: 2
adults and 1 juvenile on Aug 7 at Little Piskwamish and 1 adult at Little
Piskwamish South on Aug 10. Franklin's Gull last seen on Aug 7. Black-billed
Cuckoo: carrying food on Aug 12 at Little Piskwamish. Olive-sided Flycatcher: 2
on Aug 12. Gray Jay: 2 adults and 1 juvenile regular at camp. Common Raven: 31
on Aug 8. Boreal Chickadee: 3 on Aug 10. Swainson's Thrush: 1 juvenile on 11,
12 and 13. American Pipit: 1 on Aug 10. Bohemian Waxwing: 15 on Aug 9 at Little
Piskwamish. Rusty Blackbird: 30 on Aug 9. Clay-colored Sparrow: 4 on Aug 7 were
last sightings. Savannah Sparrow, 67 on Aug 4. Nelson's Sparrow (subspecies
alter): 8 on Aug 10, still singing on 13th but much less song. Le Conte's
Sparrow: 6 on Aug 10 still singing. Fox Sparrow: 2 on Aug 7. HARRIS'S SPARROW:
1 on Aug 10 found by Barb Charlton. Red Crossbill: 1 on Aug 11 at Little
Piskwamish, 1 on Aug 13 at Little Piskwamish South. White-winged Crossbill: 30
on Aug 9. 

 

MAMMALS: Gray Wolf: 2 on Aug 10 (video). Black Bear: 4 on
Aug 12  including a female with 2 cubs.
American Pine Marten: 1 on Aug 9. Beluga (White Whale): 5 on Aug 7 at Little
Piskwamish South. Striped Skunk: almost daily around camp. POLAR BEAR: Guy
Morrison and Ken Ross on aerial survey saw over 20 Polar Bears on north coast
of Akimiski Island in Nunavut. All bears looked to be in good condition and
several females had 2 cubs. No Polar Bears sighted on the Ontario Coast south
of Akimiski Island.

 

BUTTERFLIES: Mustard White, Bronze Copper, Northern
Crescent, Northern Spring Azure, Red Admiral, White Admiral, Common Ringlet and
Mourning Cloak. List compiled by Barb Charlton.

 

1. Map showing locations of survey camps

http://jeaniron.ca/2016/JB16/map2016.htm

 

2. Population Estimates of North American Shorebirds 2012

http://bit.ly/1zPebsP  

 

3. Guide to Southbound Shorebirds

http://www.ofo.ca/site/page/view/articles.southboundshorebirds

 

WESTERN HEMISPHERE SHOREBIRD RESERVE: The vast pristine
intertidal mudflats and prairie-like coastal marshes of James Bay comprise one
of the most important shorebird areas in the world. The hope is that James Bay
or portions thereof will be designated a "Western Hemisphere Shorebird
Reserve of Hemispheric Importance". James Bay greatly exceeds the minimum
criteria for this designation.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Survey camps are rented from the Moose
Cree First Nation. Crews stay at Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and
Forestry (MNRF) staff house while in Moosonee. MNRF helicopter transported
crews in and out of camps on August 13. Surveys would not be possible without
the many hours of dedicated volunteer effort. We thank to Jerry Liguori for aging
the Prairie Falcon. Jean thanks an anonymous donor for financial assistance.

 

Jean returns home today. She will file a summary report
#3 with a link to photos on her website in a few days.

 

Ron Pittaway

Toronto, Ontario