[Ontbirds]James Bay Shorebirds - Akimiski Report # 1
jeaniron at sympatico.ca
Sun Aug 3 08:50:59 EDT 2008
Jean Iron called late last night (Aug 2) by satellite phone from
Akimiski Island, Nunavut, in James Bay. She is volunteering again
with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) under the
general direction of Research Scientist Ken Abraham (OMNR) and
Professor Erica Nol of Trent University. There are 6 people including
Jean in camp from OMNR and Trent. I'll report more about their
studies in future posts. James Bay reaches deep into Eastern Canada
between Ontario and Quebec. Hundreds of thousands of shorebirds stage
on the wide tidal flats and coastal marshes in transit between the
Arctic and wintering areas in Central and South America. Aerial
surveys indicate that the north coast of Akimiski Island is
particularly important to southbound shorebirds. Jean will be
recording the shorebird species, numbers, plumages/ages (adults and
juveniles), stages of molt, movements related to tides, and habitats
used for feeding and roosting. She'll also document much of the above
with photographs. Yesterday thousands of distant shorebirds stretched
along the coast, but surveyors were able to identify and count only
birds within 1.5 km of camp. Today they will survey farther from
camp. Recent sightings below.
Semipalmated Plover: 12 on August 1, 7 on August 2. No colour-banded
local birds suggesting migrants.
Greater Yellowlegs: 70 on August 2. Mostly adults.
Lesser Yellowlegs: 150 on August 2. Mostly juveniles.
Hudsonian Godwit: 34 molting adults on August 2.
Marbled Godwit: 2 in flight on August 2. The 5 adult godwits fitted
with transmitters this spring are still on the island. No nests were
found this summer during thorough searches. Jean will be watching
closely for juveniles indicating breeding this year.
Ruddy Turnstone: 12 adults (no signs of molt) on August 2.
Semipalmated Sandpiper: 500 mostly adults with a good proportion of
juveniles. Juveniles will soon outnumber adults. Based on previous
colour marking, some Semipalmateds from James Bay go to the tidal
flats at the north end of the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. Others
were sighted in Ottawa and at Presqu'ile Provincial Park on Lake Ontario.
White-rumped Sandpiper: 1000 molting adults on August 2, most common
shorebird. When adult White-rumpeds depart James Bay, most bypass
southern Ontario apparently going east across Quebec to the Gulf of
St. Lawrence and Maritime Provinces.
Pectoral Sandpiper: 64 non-molting adults feeding among the bright
yellow Mastodon Flowers (Senecio congestus) in the marshy inshore.
Dunlin: 3 adults still mainly in worn breeding plumage.
Mammals: 5 Polar Bears were close to camp yesterday, including a
female with a cub. About 50 Polar Bears annually summer on Akimiski
Island waiting for freeze-up in late fall. These are the most
southerly Polar Bears in the world. On Friday's flight from Moosonee
to the island, 13 Belugas (white whales) including a female and calve
were sighted midway between Akimiski and the Ontario coast.
Satellite image of Akimiski Island, largest island in James Bay. The
camp is on the northeast coast.
Note sea ice off Ontario's north coast. This is annually the last
part of Hudson Bay to have sea ice.
Jean will phone me every few days to post updates.
Toronto / Minden ON
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