> From: "Jean Iron" <[log in to unmask]>
> Date: July 18, 2010 9:09:15 PM EDT
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: [Ontbirds] James Bay Shorebirds, Ontario #1
> This is today's report (18 July 2010) from Jean Iron via satellite phone
> for the period 14-17 July from Longridge Point on the southern coast of
> James Bay. James Bay is the southeastern extension of Hudson Bay
> reaching deep into eastern Canada south to about 51 degrees north
> latitude. The unspoiled broad tidal flats, wide coastal marshes and
> islands of James Bay are of hemispheric importance to southbound
> shorebirds and waterfowl migrating from the Canadian Arctic. Longridge
> Point is about 850 km or 530 miles north of Toronto with about one hour
> more daylight today than Toronto.
> Mark Peck of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) leads a crew of four
> surveying shorebirds with a particular focus on the endangered rufa
> subspecies of the Red Knot. Others crew members are Christian Friis
> (Canadian Wildlife Service), Lisa Pollock (Trent University/Ontario
> Ministry of Natural Resources), and Jean Iron (ROM volunteer). The ROM
> group is also surveying Yellow Rails and collecting data on frogs and
> toads. The crew arrived on 14 July and is staying until mid August so
> they will see adults and juveniles of many shorebirds, allowing rough
> estimates of breeding success.
> SHOREBIRD OBSERVATIONS
> Usually only the high count day for each species is recorded below.
> Recent weather has been wet and windy affecting observations.
> Black-bellied Plover: 1 adult on 17th.
> Greater Yellowlegs: 243 and 1 juvenile on 17th. Greaters nest nearby in
> the Hudson Bay Lowlands.
> Lesser Yellowlegs: 375 adults on 16th, 3 juveniles on 17th. Lessers nest
> nearby in the Hudson Bay Lowlands.
> Whimbrel: 21 adults on 17th.
> Hudsonian Godwit: 169 molting adults on 16th. These are migrants from
> farther north.
> Marbled Godwit: 18 adults on 16th. There is a small isolated population
> breeding on southern James Bay in Ontario, Akimiski Island in Nunavut,
> and Quebec.
> Ruddy Turnstone: 25 adults on 17th showing no signs of molt.
> RED KNOT: 725 molting and fading adults on 17th. 10 knots on 17th with
> leg flags included 2 from Argentina, 6 from Delaware Bay (USA) and 1
> from Virginia or Florida. About 10% of the rufa subspecies is marked.
> Florida and South American wintering knots form two populations, which
> have different migration routes and breeding grounds. When the data on
> flagged birds are analyzed, we will know the approximate ages and ratio
> of males to females, which was determined at time of banding using
> molecular sexing techniques. Researchers in other locations of North and
> South America will re-sight some of these birds so we will learn more
> about the populations using James Bay and their migration routes.
> Sanderling: 10 molting and fading adults on 16th.
> Semipalmated Sandpiper: 600 slightly molting adults on 17th.
> Least Sandpiper: 15 adults on 16th showing no signs of molt.
> White-rumped Sandpiper: 7 molting adults on 17th. Adults should soon
> increase in numbers.
> Pectoral Sandpiper: 246 adults on 16th showing no signs of molt.
> Dunlin: 18 worn adults on 17th. Thousands of Dunlins stage in James Bay,
> where adults undergo a complete prebasic molt of body and flight
> feathers before resuming migration about mid September. Almost all
> juveniles undergo a partial molt of body feathers (not wings/tail)
> before migrating. This is why Dunlins are very rare south of the
> subarctic until much later than most shorebirds.
> Short-billed Dowitcher: 1 bright (extensive cinnamon below) adult of the
> hendersoni subspecies. This subspecies breeds mainly in muskegs and
> bogs/fens across the boreal forest from northern Manitoba to the
> southern Northwest Territories and northeastern British Columbia.
> Wilson's Snipe: 2 still winnowing.
> Shorebird Foods: Shorebirds in Hudson and James Bays feed on the
> abundant larvae of the bivalve Macoma balthica (clam), and in southern
> James Bay, the gastropod Hydrobia minuta (snail), as well as a variety
> of crustaceans (shrimps/crabs & relatives), worms and dipteran (fly)
> larvae (Ontario Shorebird Conservation Plan 2003).
> OTHER BIRD SIGHTINGS
> Birds: Gadwall, 2 on 16th; American White Pelican, 30 on 16th and 22 on
> 17th; Yellow Rail, 1 singing (tick-tick) regularly, they were commoner
> in 2009; Merlin nesting on ridge behind camp; Short-eared Owl, 2, Arctic
> Tern, 2 on 17th; 2; Boreal Chickadee, 2 near camp; Gray Jay, 3 near
> camp; Pine Grosbeak, 1 on 16th; Northern Waterthrush; Tennessee Warbler
> with young; Clay-colored Sparrow, 2 singing males included 1 on 16th and
> 1 on 17th, a thin population breeds in open willow and birch scrub
> adjacent James and Hudson Bays; Le Conte's Sparrow, 5 on 16th; Nelson's
> Sparrow, 10 on 16th; Fox Sparrow, singing; White-winged Crossbill, 65 on
> Mammals: 3 Belugas (White Whales) on 16th during high tide at Beluga
> Point east of camp. Polar Bears are not expected because they rare south
> of Akimiski Island. One close Black Bear was seen. Last year a Black
> Bear broke into the kitchen cabin, made a mess and ate a lot of food.
> This required someone to guard the food so that person wasn't available
> to survey shorebirds. This year a solar powered electric fence surrounds
> the food cabin. Vole and mouse numbers are low, which is similar to most
> other locations in the Hudson Bay Lowlands, except Akimiski Island where
> Meadow Voles are common.
> Amphibians: American Toads of the colourful Hudson Bay subspecies copei
> are abundant; Boreal Chorus Frogs are still singing, and Wood Frogs.
> Butterflies: Viceroy, Common Ringlet, White Admiral, Red Admiral,
> Fritillary sp. (Atlantis or Great Spangled), Sulphur sp., and Cabbage
> White. Recent wet weather hasn't been good for butterflies. The 16th was
> the best day when most of the above were seen.
> Southern James Bay Map Showing Position of Longridge Point
> Aerial Photo of Longridge Point extending 7 km into James Bay
> Literature Cited: ONTARIO SHOREBIRD CONSERVATION PLAN. 2003. Ross, K.,
> and K. Abraham, R. Clay, B. Collins, J. Iron, R. James, D. McLachlin, R.
> Weeber. 48 pages. Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada. Link to
> pdf below.
> Acknowledgements: I thank Ken Abraham (Ontario Ministry of Natural
> Resources (OMNR)) and Don Sutherland (OMNR) for information.
> Jean will call every 4-6 days and I'll post updates over the next month.
> Ron Pittaway
> Minden, Ontario
> ONTBIRDS is presented by the Ontario Field Ornithologists - the provincial birding organization.
> Send bird reports to ONTBIRDS mailing list [log in to unmask]
> For information about ONTBIRDS visit http://www.ofo.ca/
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