[Ontbirds] James Bay Shorebirds, Ontario #2

Jean Iron jeaniron at sympatico.ca
Fri Jul 23 17:39:13 EDT 2010

This is Jean Iron's second report on 23 July 2010 by satellite phone for
the period 18-22 July from Longridge Point on the south coast of James
Bay. The Royal Ontario Museum study of Red Knots and shorebirds is a
cooperative effort with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
(OMNR), Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) and Trent University.

The past several days have been mainly sunny with daytime high
temperatures below average with cool nights. High tides have been weak
so shorebirds were less concentrated for counting. Usually only high
count day numbers for each species are listed below in checklist order.

Black-bellied Plover: 2 adults on 20-21 July.

Semipalmated Plover: 26 probable adults in flight on 22 July.

Killdeer: 10 on 21 July. Late nest with 4 eggs hatched on 22 July.

Greater Yellowlegs: 137 mostly adults on 19 July.

Lesser Yellowlegs: 480 (1/3 juveniles) on 18 July.

Whimbrel: 78 adults on 20 July.

Hudsonian Godwit: 222 molting adults on 19 July. Adult Hudsonian Godwits
molt body feathers before migrating from James Bay usually going nonstop
to South America in late August and early September.

Marbled Godwit: None seen. 

Ruddy Turnstone: 102 on 22 July appeared to be mostly females in worn
alternate plumage. 

RED KNOT: Highest count to date of 638 molting adults on 20 July is half
the number for same period in 2009. 69 flagged individuals observed
include birds banded in the United States, Brazil, Argentina and Chile.
The above include 7 birds marked before 2005. One with a data logger
from Delaware Bay (USA) observed on 20-21 July. After breeding in the
Canadian Arctic, rufa Red Knots migrate to stopover areas such as
southern James Bay, where they fatten for the long flight to South
America. Another rufa population winters in Florida. Florida knots are
rare in James Bay. Longridge was chosen as the ROM's survey site because
high numbers were recorded there in the past. A one-day estimate of 5000
at Longridge was made in the late 1970s before the decline.

Sanderling: 22 fading and molting adults on 18 July.

Semipalmated Sandpiper: 1095 adults (no juveniles) on 22 July. 

Least Sandpiper: first juvenile on 17 July. 80 (1/2 juveniles) on 20

White-rumped Sandpiper: 109 molting adults on 22 July.

Pectoral Sandpiper: 540 adults (not molting) on 20 July.

Dunlin: 11 worn adults not yet in active molt on 22 July.

Stilt Sandpiper: 2 molting adults on 21-22 July.

Short-billed Dowitcher: 6 adults (not molting) on 19 July comprised 2
nominate subspecies griseus and 4 hendersoni. 8 on 21 July were mostly
hendersoni. 1 nominate griseus on 22 July. 

Wilson's Snipe: 4 still winnowing on 19 July.

WILSON'S PHALAROPE: One juvenile on 21 July found by Mark Peck and Lisa
Pollock. It likely hatched locally because this phalarope breeds
sparingly in the prairie-like marshes of James Bay.

Birds: American White Pelican seen daily with high of 57 on 20 July.
Sandhill Crane. Yellow Rail numbers are much lower than last summer
possibly linked to drier marshes this year. Some Yellow Rails may have
short-stopped to breed in the areas such as southern Manitoba, which is
very wet this summer with many reports of singing Yellow Rails.
Short-eared Owl, pair with two young. Gray Jay, pair with a blackish
juvenile. Swainson's Thrush singing. Orange-crowned Warbler singing. Le
Conte's Sparrow nest with eggs on 22 July. Nelson's Sparrow nest with
eggs on 19 July. Small numbers of White-winged Crossbills and Common
Redpolls seen most days.

Mammals: A dead Beluga, 3 metres in length, washed up on shore. Crew
hopes the carcass will attract scavengers such as Red Fox, Gray Wolf and
Lynx whose tracks have been seen during surveys. Two Black Bears seen on
19 July. A Caribou on 19 July. A Short-tailed Weasel (Mustela erminea)
is around camp. 

Butterflies: Two additions since last report: Skipper sp. (genus
Polites) and Northern Crescent.

Map link below of southern James Bay. Yellow pointer shows location of
Longridge Point. Ontario borders the west coast of James Bay and Quebec
borders the east coast. Provincial boundaries extend to the low water
mark on James Bay. Offshore islands extending to the low water mark are
part of Nunavut Territory. The waters and seabed of James Bay are
internal parts of Canada under exclusive federal jurisdiction and not
part of Ontario, Quebec or Nunavut.

Jean will call again in 4-6 days and I'll post her third report.

Ron Pittaway
Minden, Ontario

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