[Ontbirds] James Bay Report # 1

Jean Iron jeaniron at sympatico.ca
Thu Jul 16 13:40:18 EDT 2009


Jean Iron phoned me this morning from Moosonee before flying out to 
the James Bay coast. A crew headed by Mark Peck of the Royal Ontario 
Museum (ROM) will be surveying migrating shorebirds with a particular 
focus on Red Knots. Jean is a volunteer with the ROM. The crew 
comprises Mark Peck, Amy Whitear, Gerry Binsfeld, Doug McRae, Don 
Shanahan and Jean Iron. This morning (16 July) they flew by 
helicopter to Longridge Point about 60 km north of Moosonee on the 
southwestern coast of James Bay. They are camping and surveying there 
until 3 August. See map link below.

RECENT OBSERVATIONS
Waterfowl: A poor nesting season for Canada Geese (subspecies 
interior); small flocks of molting male Mallards and male Northern 
Pintails along coast south of Attawapiskat; small flocks of molting 
male Black Scoters at several locations long coast.

American White Pelican: 16 at Longridge Point in early July by Don 
Sutherland et al. 150 on coast south of Attawapiskat on 15 July by 
Stacy Gan et al. This species has recently expanded its range to 
James Bay and first found breeding there in 2006. Numbers are increasing.

Great Egret: 1 in coastal marsh just south of North Bluff Point by 
Don Sutherland et al. Well north of normal range.

Bald Eagle: 7 south of Attawapiskat on 15 July by Stacy Gan et al. 
Nonbreeding eagles, mostly Balds, are now summering along the Hudson 
and James Bay coasts presumably preying on abundant Snow and Canada Geese.

Golden Eagle: adult south of Attawapiskat on 15 July by Stacy Gan et al.

Yellow Rail: ROM crews (Mark Peck et al.) from 1 - 11 July found 300+ 
birds including 5 seen in sedge marshes at 5 survey sites along coast 
between the Quebec border to Attawapiskat.

Virginia Rail: at least 2 calling in early July in coastal cattail 
marsh south of North Bluff Point by Don Sutherland et al. Well north 
of normal range.

Sora: heard at North Bluff Point by Don Sutherland et al. This rail 
is regular and probably widely distributed in the Hudson Bay Lowlands.

Sandhill Crane: common

Shorebird Migration: only small numbers of southbound adults reported 
to date possibly due to a delayed onset of nesting because of below 
normal temperatures in May and June and a late snow melt. Numbers of 
adults expected to increase soon. Juveniles to follow in August.

Hudsonian Godwit: 60 adults along coast south of Attawapiskat on 15 
July fide Stacy Gan et al.

Marbled Godwit: One in early July in vast graminoid peatland 10+ km 
inland from Hannah Bay by Don Sutherland et al. 20 adults along coast 
south of Attawapiskat on 15 July fide Stacy Gan et al.

Little Gull: Five adults, some performing courtship flight displays, 
in coastal fen southeast of Moosonee by Don Sutherland et al. Most 
Little Gulls in North America probably breed in the Hudson Bay 
Lowlands between Moosonee and Churchill, Manitoba.

Black Tern: scattered sightings along coast at North Point and Fort Albany.

Great Black-backed Gull: mostly immatures in various plumages at 
several sites by Don Sutherland et al.

Great Gray Owl: 1 in early July between Moosonee and James Bay by Don 
Sutherland et al.

Eastern Kingbird: 1 in early July south of North Bluff Point by Don 
Sutherland et al. Well north of normal range.

Swallows: Tree, Cliff, and Barn Swallows all fairly common flying 
over Moose River in Moosonee on 14 July.

Wood Thrush: A male singing in riparian willow thickets south of Fort 
Albany from 3 - 10 July by ROM crew. Well north of normal range.

Gray Catbird: A male singing in early July in willow thickets on an 
island at mouth of the Harricanaw River by Don Sutherland et al. Well 
north of normal range.

Northern Mockingbird: one (very rare) in Moosonee seen by ROM group on 15 July.

Clay-colored Sparrow: 5 sightings in willow scrub along coast. This 
species is regular in the coastal strip along James and Hudson Bays in Ontario.

Le Conte's Sparrow: fairly common, but less so than Nelson's 
Sparrows, and on drier sites than Nelson's along coast.

Nelson's Sparrow (subspecies alterus): common along coast in same 
sedge marsh habitats as Yellow Rails.

Winter Finches: Don Sutherland et al. in early July observed 
White-winged Crossbills every day, usually in flocks of 15 - 30, but 
several larger flocks of more than 100 birds; small flocks of Common 
Redpolls at several sites; Pine Siskins were seen most days; and 
Purple Finches were widespread and singing; no Pine Grosbeaks observed.

Map link below of southern James Bay. Note yellow marker showing 
location of Longridge Point where the ROM group is camped. Ontario 
borders the west coast of James Bay and Quebec borders the east 
coast. However, the provincial boundaries extend only to the high 
water marks on James Bay. Offshore islands are in Nunavut Territory 
whereas the waters and seabed of James Bay are under federal jurisdiction.
http://www.jeaniron.ca/2009/James-Bay-2009-REKN.jpg

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Mark Peck of the Royal Ontario Museum 
(ROM) and Don Sutherland and Stacy Gan of the Ontario Ministry of 
Natural Resources (OMNR). Thanks also to the other ROM and OMNR crew 
members (sorry if your names were omitted) who surveyed Yellow Rails 
and Species At Risk in early July.

Jean will be calling me by satellite phone from Longridge and I'll 
post several updates over the next three weeks.

Ron Pittaway
Minden and Toronto ON




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