[Ontbirds]James Bay - Akimiski Island Report # 8
jeaniron at sympatico.ca
Thu Jun 26 20:31:53 EDT 2008
We had a satellite phone call from from Akimiski Island for the
period 11-26 June 2008. Mark Peck of the Royal Ontario Museum, Tyler
Hoar and Gerry Binsfeld arrived on Akimiski Island on 11 June and
will be leaving the Island tomorrow, 27 June. They are surveying
shorebirds along coastal transects north and south of camp, and
inland along a 7 km transect through black and white spruce, wet
areas, and a previous burn now growing in with balsam poplar. They
are also monitoring Semipalmated Plovers and Killdeers. During 16
days of surveys they have walked over 250 km. Most days were cool and
foggy, the last three days were sunny, high 8 degrees celsius. Ice is
still on James Bay.
Shorebird Breeding and Migration
Northbound shorebird migration was over by about 13 June. Most flocks
of 40+ Hudsonian Godwits left by 13 June. A few birds remained,
feeding on the coast then flying inland where they may nest. However,
the interior of Akimiski Island is difficult to access on foot, so
Mark, Tyler and Gerry have not looked inland for nests.
About 20 Marbled Godwits, one with a satellite transmitter, have been
regular on the coast where they feed, then fly inland. Much suitable
nesting habitat occurs in the interior in large sedge meadows and
fens. The surveyors have not been able to access these large inland
fen meadows to check for nests.
Most Semipalmated Plover and Killdeer nests were wiped out by the
very high tide on 8 June. They renested and the first Semipalmated
Plovers hatched on 24 June. Depredation by Red Foxes, Common Ravens,
American Crows and Herring Gulls is high.
Southbound shorebird migration just started. 20 to 60 adult Hudsonian
Godwits a day are now gathering at this staging area on the coast.
Their numbers will increase in James Bay, where they will fatten up
before their mostly nonstop long distance flight to South America
later in the summer. About 50 adult Lesser Yellowlegs are gathering
on the mudflats indicating the first southbound migrants of this
species. Expect the first southbound migrant adult Lesser Yellowlegs
any day in southern Ontario.
Between 5 and 10 Short-billed Dowitchers have been seen every day
along the coast. Some could be early southbound migrants.
Brant migrated north on 12/13 June, however a small flock of about 51
has remained throughout the period. Rafts of 200 male Common
Goldeneye were on the bay on 16 June, indicating these are molt
migrants that will summer on James Bay. White-winged and Black
Scoters, and Common Loons have been sighted.
Single sighting of Sharp-tailed Grouse and Spruce Grouse.
Arctic Terns are nesting on gravel ridges. Bonaparte's Gulls are
regular on the coast.
Great Horned Owl seen on 17 June.
31 Gray Jays on a 7 km transect inland in black and white spruce.
Gray Jay seen taking Ruby-crowned Kinglet egg. Ruby-crowned Kinglets
were agitated when Gray Jays are near.
Vagrant Gray Catbird and Northern Mockingbird seen on 25 June.
Many singing male Tennessee Warblers. Yellow Warblers were building
nests on 16 June and are still laying eggs on 26 June, whereas
Yellow-rumped Warbler eggs are hatching now. Northern Waterthrushes
are in the sloughs inland from camp.
6 Le Conte's Sparrows south of camp arrived on territory around 14/15
June. 1 Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow (subspecies alterus) was 3 km
south of camp on 15 June. Many singing Fox and Lincoln's Sparrows.
Savannah Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow eggs are hatching on 26 June.
40 White-winged Crossbills were seen on 19 June, and 1 to 3 pairs
seen each day since.
Mammals: First Polar Bear sighted on 12 June 1 km south of camp. Next
night, it came within 150 metres of camp. Firing a bear banger
discouraged it from coming closer. Three nights later another Polar
Bear overturned water barrels outside the camp fence on two
consecutive nights. The electric fence and a 4 metre high fence
protect the camp. Two Lynx are regularly seen over past 5 days.
Map link shows snow and ice conditions. Akimiski (note green island)
is close to Ontario coast half way up west side of James Bay.
Jean Iron and Ron Pittaway
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