Longridge Point, James
Below are 7 reports posted to Ontbirds and Shorebirds listservs
Shorebird Breeding Success in
Posted 16 July
Reports from the Canadian Arctic indicate a generally much better
breeding year for most shorebirds compared to the late snow melt and
cold nesting season in 2009.
Map shows the Canadian Arctic is mostly snow free and the sea ice in
Hudson Bay is almost gone whereas ice remained well into August in
Counting juvenile shorebirds south of the breeding grounds will give
an indication of breeding success in 2010, which is a good reason to
learn how to distinguish the age classes.
A crew led by Mark Peck of the Royal Ontario Museum arrived at
Longridge Point on southern James Bay on Wednesday, July 14. They
are surveying migrating shorebirds with a particular focus on the
endangered rufa subspecies of the Red Knot. Jean Iron will
file their first report soon.
Acknowledgements: I thank Ken Abraham, Vicky Johnston, Guy Morrison,
Erica Nol and Paul Smith for information.
Ron Pittaway, Minden, Ontario
James Bay Report # 1
Posted 18 July 2010
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.
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.
Godwit: 169 molting adults on 16th. These are migrants from farther
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
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 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 15th.
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
AMPHIBIANS: American Toads of the colourful Hudson Bay subspecies
copei are abundant; Boreal Chorus Frogs are still singing, and
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
Southern James Bay Map Showing Position of Longridge Point www.jeaniron.ca/2010/longridgemap.jpg
Aerial Photo of Longridge Point extending
5 km into James Bay www.jeaniron.ca/2010/Longridge-Point3791.jpg
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
Ron Pittaway, Minden, Ontario, Canada
James Bay Report #
Posted 23 July 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.
OBSERVATIONS: 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.
Plover: 2 adults on 20-21 July.
Plover: 26 probable adults in flight on 22 July.
Killdeer: 10 on
21 July. Late nest with 4 eggs hatched on 22 July.
Yellowlegs: 137 mostly adults on 19 July.
Yellowlegs: 480 (1/3 juveniles) on 18 July.
adults on 20 July.
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.
102 on 22 July appeared to be mostly females in worn alternate
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.
fading and molting adults on 18 July.
Sandpiper: 1095 adults (no juveniles) on 22 July.
first juvenile on 17 July. 80 (1/2 juveniles) on 20 July.
Sandpiper: 109 molting adults on 22 July.
Sandpiper: 540 adults (not molting) on 20 July.
Dunlin: 11 worn
adults not yet in active molt on 22 July.
2 molting adults on 21-22 July.
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.
4 still winnowing on 19 July.
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.
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.
additions since last report: Skipper sp. (genus Polites) and
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.
Minden, Ontario, Canada
James Bay Report # 3
Posted 1 August 2010
This is Jean Iron's third report by
satellite phone on 1 August 2010 for the period 23 July to 1 August
2010 from Longridge Point on southern James Bay. Jean is a volunteer
surveying Red Knots and other shorebirds under the direction of Mark
Peck of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.
On 31 July four more people arrived at
camp and one there departed. Don Sutherland of the Ontario Ministry
of Natural Resources (OMNR), Mike McMurtry (OMNR), Doug McRae (ROM
volunteer) and Ray Ford (writer) arrived and Christian Friis
(Canadian Wildlife Service) left. Mark Peck, Lisa Pollock (Trent
University/OMNR) and Jean Iron are staying until the survey ends
about 15 August. Seven people are in camp.
SHOREBIRD MIGRATION CHRONOLOGY: Most
(not all) southbound shorebirds migrate in three waves: females
first, males second, juveniles last.
Females depart soon after the young
hatch leaving the males to raise the young. The males depart about
2-3 weeks later when the juveniles have grown. Then juveniles
migrate after the males.
SHOREBIRD OBSERVATIONS: About 7000 shorebirds are currently in
the Longridge Point area. There are no Peregrine Falcons to disrupt
their feeding. Best day for high counts was 29 July after a storm.
For most species only the high count day is given below in checklist
Black-bellied Plover: 21 molting adults
on 29 July.
American Golden-Plover: 2 adults on 25
Semipalmated Plover: 97 on 29 July.
Killdeer: 26 on 29 July.
Spotted Sandpiper: 9 on 31 July.
Greater Yellowlegs: 209 (1/2 juveniles)
on 29 July.
Lesser Yellowlegs: 437 mostly juveniles
on 28 July.
Whimbrel: 51 on 23 July.
Hudsonian Godwit: 392 molting adults on
Marbled Godwit: None.
Ruddy Turnstone: 415 adults on 29 July.
RED KNOT: The high count of 1143 molting
adults was on 29 July. The extensive tidal flats of southern James
Bay are an important stopover area for knots. 120 marked individuals
have been observed with several birds seen over a period of 12-14
days indicating a long stay. Mark Peck and shorebird researcher Lisa
Pollock are sampling the foods eaten by the knots. They noted that
the knots are plump and in excellent condition. These knots will
likely fly nonstop to South America.
Migrating knots that fail to gain
adequate weight suffer reduced survival.
Sanderling: 20 molting adults on 25
Semipalmated Sandpiper: 4338 mostly
adults on 31 July, first juveniles (a few) on 30th.
WESTERN SANDPIPER: 2 on 29 July seen by
Least Sandpiper: 126 mainly juveniles on
White-rumped Sandpiper: 2450 molting
adults on 31 July. A few are still in almost full but heavily worn
Pectoral Sandpiper: 520 adults (not
molting) on 29 July.
Dunlin: 34 adults still in full worn
alternate plumage on 26 July.
BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER: 1 on 25 July
seen by Lisa Pollock.
Short-billed Dowitcher: 2 juveniles on
24 July, 5 juveniles on 29th.
Wilson's Snipe: 4 on 28 July.
Wilson's Phalarope: 1 juvenile
previously reported on 21 July, 1 adult (probable male with cinnamon
on sides of neck) on 29th, 1 juvenile on 30th. A sparse population
breeds at James Bay.
Red-necked Phalarope: 1 molting adult on
SEA LEVEL RISE: Sea levels could rise
one metre by 2100 and will continue rising. Ontario's low flat
coastline of James Bay is extremely vulnerable. Rising sea levels
will inundate or change vital shorebird habitats.
OTHER BIRDS: Black Scoter, a few seen
but not the big flocks of molting males seen last summer.
Red-throated Loon. 92 American White Pelicans on 1 August. Yellow
Rail, 6 ticking on 1 August. Osprey. Northern Harrier.
Northern Goshawk on 1 August. Merlin. An
adult Great Black-backed Gull is regular. Little Gull, 1 adult of 23
and 29 July was in wing molt.
Bonaparte's Gull, 356 on 30 July with
some adults in wing molt, first juveniles on 23 July. Bonaparte's
and Little Gulls in wing molt suggest that some birds of these
species undergo prebasic molt close to the breeding grounds. Arctic
Terns seen daily including a pair feeding 3 young on 27 July. Common
Tern, 2 on 31 July. Adult light morph Parasitic Jaeger on 29 July.
Short-eared Owl observed doing a "food drop" to young in the grass.
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher on 1 August. Rusty Blackbird.
Philadelphia and Red-eyed Vireos.
Tennessee, Orange-crowned, Cape May, Bay-breasted, and Blackpoll
Warblers. Le Conte's and Nelson's Sparrows still singing, Nelson's
nest with 4 young. 1 Purple Finch. White-winged Crossbills daily.
Common Redpolls regular.
MAMMALS: Black Bears are seen daily
including a female with two cubs and a female with one cub. No
problem bears around camp. A dead young Beluga (White Whale) washed
up on shore. It could be the calf of the adult that washed up
earlier. Young Snowshoe Hare around camp. Short-tailed Weasel
regular at camp. Striped Skunks 2.
BUTTERFLIES: New since the last report
are Atlantis Fritillary and American Lady.
FOREST FIRES: There are currently very
few forest fires burning in Ontario's boreal forest and Hudson Bay
Lowlands. Most fires north of the commercial timber zone are allowed
to burn unless they threaten lives/property and First Nation (Cree)
Southern James Bay map shows location of
Jean will call again in a week and I'll
post another update.
Ron Pittaway, Minden, Ontario
James Bay Report #
Posted 7 August 2010
This is Jean Iron's fourth report by
satellite phone for the period 1-6 August 2010 from Longridge Point
on the south coast of James Bay. Jean is a volunteer with the Royal
Ontario Museum (ROM) surveying the endangered rufa subspecies of the
Red Knot and other shorebirds. The crew is led by Mark Peck (ROM)
who is a Canadian member of the international team studying knots in
the Americas. Other surveyors are Don Sutherland and Mike McMurtry
of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR), Doug McRae (ROM
volunteer), Lisa Pollock (Trent University/OMNR) and Ray Ford
Ontario's coastline of James Bay
measures about 560 kilometres or 350 miles.
The coast is extremely flat and
intersected by several large rivers and many streams. The southern
coast is characterized by long narrow promontories such as Longridge
Point, wide tidal flats, shoals, sandy bays, extensive brackish
marshes and pools. Its importance to shorebirds has been compared to
the upper Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick.
SHOREBIRD OBSERVATIONS: 26 species to
date. Three Peregrine Falcons observed chasing shorebirds on 6
August. It is unlikely that these are Tundra Peregrines (subspecies
tundrius) which should be much farther north at this date. Usually
only the high count day is given for each species in checklist
Black-bellied Plover: 212 adults on 6
American Golden-Plover: 7 adults on 6
Semipalmated Plover: 213 adults on 5
Killdeer: 20 on 3 August were a mix of
adults and juveniles.
Greater Yellowlegs: 206 (1/2 juveniles)
on 3 August.
Lesser Yellowlegs: 434 mostly juveniles
on 6 August.
Solitary Sandpiper: 2 on 1 August.
Spotted Sandpiper: 12 juveniles on 5
Whimbrel: 69 adults (not molting) on 5
August. Here is a link to a Whimbrel named Chinquapin that on 5
August was migrating south over James Bay. Allow a few seconds to
Hudsonian Godwit: 839 molting adults on
Marbled Godwit: 1
Ruddy Turnstone: 656 adults and first
juvenile on 5 August.
RED KNOT: 2062 molting adults (no
juveniles as of 6 August) on 2 August,2000 on 3rd, 1200 on 6 July
indicates about 40 percent departed between 3 and 6 August. Some
flagged birds stayed 15 days. The migration strategy of southbound
knots is to gather at a limited number of stopover sites such as
southern James Bay where they fatten before migrating nonstop to the
next stopover or wintering grounds.
Sanderling: 56 molting adults on 6
August, some with considerable rusty.
A green-flagged bird on the 6th was
banded in New Jersey or Delaware, United States.
Semipalmated Sandpiper: 3049 mostly
adults on 6 August, very few juveniles to date.
Least Sandpiper: 162 juveniles on 6
White-rumped Sandpiper: 7576 molting
adults on 6 August. The most abundant shorebird.
Pectoral Sandpiper: 1584 adults (not
molting) on 6 August.
Dunlin: 87 adults on 5 August not yet
showing signs of molt.
Short-billed Dowitcher: 15 juveniles on
Wilson's Snipe: 11 on 6 August. Flushed
Wilson's Phalarope: 1 juvenile on 4 and
Red-necked Phalarope: 1 on 3 August, 2
on 4th, 1 adult on 6th.
OTHER BIRDS: American White Pelican, 126
on 1 August. This pelican is expanding eastward as a breeder and
only recently have numbers occurred on James Bay. Northern Harrier,
2 juveniles on 5 and 6 August. Northern Goshawk, 1 juvenile on 1 and
3 August, 1 adult on 6th. Merlin, 5 are now hunting shorebirds,
likely the adults and juveniles of the local nesting pair. Yellow
Rails heard daily. Little Gull, Don Sutherland on 2 August watched
an adult feeding a begging juvenile suggesting nearby nesting, 2
juvenile Little Gulls on 3 August. The main breeding area of Little
Gulls in North America is likely the Hudson Bay Lowlands between
James Bay and Churchill, Manitoba. Bonaparte's Gull, both adults and
juveniles noted, many adults are in wing molt. This suggests that an
unknown number of adult Bonaparte's undergo prebasic molt in
northern Ontario. There is usually an influx of adult Bonaparte's
Gulls in November on the Niagara River associated with strong cold
fronts. Perhaps some these birds come from northern stopover lakes
with abundant minnows such as Lake Abitibi and Lake Nipissing. Adult
Bonaparte's molt and stay in large numbers to freeze-up on Lake
Simcoe in those years that minnows, particularly Emerald Shiners,
are abundant. Arctic Tern, 1 juvenile on 6 August. Arctic Tern
greatly outnumbers Common Tern on southern James Bay. 15 species of
warblers near camp with many still feeding young recently out of the
nest. Le Conte's and Nelson's Sparrows seen daily. White-winged
Crossbill, seen and heard daily with high of 53 on 4 July,some are
singing indicating probable nesting, good cone crop on spruce in
area. Common Redpolls heard and seen regularly.
MAMMALS: A Ringed or Harbor Seal was
seen "hauled out" at the tip of Longridge Point. Caribou on 6 July.
River Otter on 5 July. A young Snowshoe Hare frequenting camp hasn't
been seen since loud screaming was heard one night - Great Horned
BUTTERFLIES: New species since the last
report are Long Dash Skipper and Clouded Sulphur.
Map shows the Canadian Arctic is mainly
free of ice and snow. It also shows James Bay reaching deep into
Photo of Longridge Point extending 6 km
into James Bay
Acknowledgements: I thank Mark Cranford,
Fletcher Smith and Alan Wormington for information.
Jean will call again in a week and I'll
post another update.
Ron Pittaway, Minden, Ontario, Canada
James Bay Report # 5
Posted 14 August 2010
This is Jean
Iron's fifth report by satellite phone for the period 7-13 August
2010 from Longridge Point, Ontario, on southern James Bay. The Red
Knot and shorebird survey are led by Mark Peck of the Royal Ontario
Museum. Partners are the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources,
Trent University and the Canadian Wildlife Service.
SHOREBIRD OBSERVATIONS: For most species only the high count day is
given below in checklist order. Date for the first juveniles are
Black-bellied Plover: 163 molting adults on 9 August, some mostly in
alternate plumage, others well molted to basic plumage.
American Golden-Plover: 9 molting adults on 8 August.
Semipalmated Plover: 237 mostly adults on 9 August, first juvenile
on 8th. No banded birds.
Killdeer: 39 on 9 August.
Spotted Sandpiper: 1 juvenile on 10 August.
Solitary Sandpiper: 2 juveniles on 9 August.
Greater Yellowlegs: 130 on 9 August, 60 percent juveniles. Slow
shift from adults to juveniles.
Lesser Yellowlegs: 572 mostly juveniles on 9 August. Rapid shift
from adults to juveniles.
Whimbrel: 52 adults on 6 August with numbers dropping off.
Hudsonian Godwit: 970 molting adults on 9 August. James Bay is the
most important southbound staging area for Hudsonian Godwits.
Marbled Godwit: 8 juveniles on 7 August and 7 on 9th. Small numbers
breed on Akimiski Island and in the prairie-like marshes of
southwestern James Bay.
Ruddy Turnstone: 604 mostly adults on 10 August, first juvenile on
RED KNOT: 1382 molting adults on 6 August, adult numbers dropped off
with 178 on 7th increasing to 672 on 13th. First juvenile knot on 9
August, 8 on 13th.
Sanderling: 36 molting adults on 13 August.
Sandpiper: 4715 mostly juveniles on 10 August. Rapid shift from
adults to juveniles.
WESTERN SANDPIPER: 1 adult was seen by Doug McRae.
Least Sandpiper: 264 juveniles on 9 August, 1 adult on 13th. Rapid
shift from adults to juveniles.
White-rumped Sandpiper: 7541 molting adults on 10 August. Juveniles
are late migrants.
Baird's Sandpiper: 1 juvenile on 8 August was the first and another
Pectoral Sandpiper: 695 adults on 9 August, first juvenile on 8th.
Dunlin: 127 mostly adults on 13 August, first juveniles (2) on 10th.
Stilt Sandpiper: 2 molting adults on 9 August.
Short-billed Dowitcher: 12 juveniles on 9 August. Rapid shift from
adults to juveniles.
Wilson's Snipe: 10 on 10 August.
Wilson's Phalarope: 4 juveniles on 7 August and 6 juveniles on
8th. Small numbers breed in the prairie-like marshes of James Bay.
Red-necked Phalarope: 8 on 7 August included 5 molting adults and 3
OTHER BIRDS: This is not a complete list. Brant, 1, probably
summered on James Bay. Canada Goose. Gadwall. American Wigeon.
American Black Duck. Mallard. Northern Shoveler. Northern Pintail.
Green-winged Teal. Greater
Scaup. Lesser Scaup. Surf Scoter. White-winged Scoter. Black
Scoter, 1042 mostly molting males on 10 August was only day with
high numbers. Bufflehead. Common Goldeneye. Common Merganser.
Double-crested Cormorant. American Bittern, 2 on 10 and 11 August.
Great Blue Heron. Bald Eagle. Northern Harrier. Merlin, family group
of 2 adults and 3 juveniles hunting shorebirds. American Kestrel, 1
juvenile or female on 13 August.Yellow Rail, last heard actively
ticking on 10 August. Little Gull, 1 that has almost completed its
molt to second
basic plumage. Bonaparte's Gull, 1647 molting adults on 9 August and
only 10-12 juveniles, the low number of juveniles suggests that many
are still on the breeding grounds or have migrated south. Common and
Arctic Terns feeding juveniles with a ratio of 13 Common to 8
Arctic. Caspian Tern, 5 or 6 most days. Parasitic Jaeger, 2 light
morph adults on 10 and 11 August. Long-eared Owl, 4 on 6 August were
probably a family group. Short-eared Owl is seen regularly over the
marshes. Common Nighthawk, 1 on 9 August. Black-backed Woodpecker, 1
on 13 August. Western
Meadowlark, 1 probable on 8 August, photos taken which will be
examined later. Le Conte's and Nelson's Sparrows, singing has
dropped off noticeably to almost no song now. White-winged
Crossbill, 49 on 9 August. Common Redpoll, 8 on 7 August.
HUDSON BAY REPORT: The following report is from Ken Abraham of the
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. "The melt was very early this
year. The phenology of goose nesting seems to have responded
accordingly with a very early laying and hatch. Nest success in our
study areas was below average because of very high predation rates.
I wasn't in a position to get any evidence of duck or swan
reproduction this year. We did not do a survey of molting scoters
this year, so I have no explanation for the lack of scoters off
Longridge Point. We've been speculating about possible differences
in weather patterns, winds or water temperatures, but we don't have
any data. I was on Southampton
Island from July 20-30. I spent a week at East Bay and a few days
in Coral Harbour doing vegetation surveys and trying to evaluate the
role of geese in the changes that have occurred there in the last 30
years. All four species of geese (snows, cackling, brant and Ross's)
seemed to have a good year with nest success in the 60-80% range for
three and relatively early hatching; brood sizes ranged from 1-5
but seemed to average about 2. We had a couple of broods of Red
Knots with half grown chicks at the beginning of that period. We
also saw several broody White-rumped Sandpipers and Ruddy
Turnstones. Those broods would probably have fledged sometime near
the end of July or the first week of August. The King Eiders had
broods, but the number of young in the creches seemed to be fairly
low. We saw a few flocks of Whimbrels but according to the crew who
had been there, they were the first of the summer so they may have
been post breeding."
MAMMALS: Beluga, 2 adults on 13 August, Mike McMurtry took a
tissue sample from dead young Beluga for DNA and toxicology
analyses. A melanistic Red Fox on 11 August. Few small mammals are
being seen, but
sightings of Northern Harriers, Short-eared and Long-eared Owls,
suggest that voles and/or shrews are present in sufficient numbers
or they're also eating birds. Red Squirrel.
BUTTERFLIES: New species since the last report are Orange
Sulphur, Pink-edged Sulphur, Palaeno Sulphur, Bog Copper and Summer
Azure. Don Sutherland reports that butterfly diversity is low this
summer, which he attributes to variable and wet weather.
DRAGONFLIES: A sample: Cherry-faced Meadowhawk, Black Meadowhawk,
Canada Darner, Sedge Darner.
Southern James Bay map shows location of Longridge Point
will be about 10 days when Jean is home. The crew was to fly out to
Moosonee on 15 August, but the helicopter was delayed in
Ungava. They are now expected to be picked up on the 17th depending
on the weather. The next day they take the 5 hour train ride from
Moosonee to Cochrane where they will overnight. Then on the third
day it's a 10 hour drive to Toronto and Peterborough. Their trip
reminds me of the 1987 comedy movie Planes, Trains and
Automobiles starring Steve Martin and John Candy.
Ron Pittaway, Minden, Ontario, Canada
James Bay Report # 6
Posted 23 August 2010
This is my sixth and final report for
the period 14-17 August 2010 at Longridge Point on southern James
Bay. The crew returned home on 18 August. I was a volunteer
surveying the endangered rufa subspecies of the Red Knot and
other shorebirds under the direction of Mark Peck of the Royal
Ontario Museum. Other crew members were Don Sutherland, Mike
McMurtry, Doug McRae, Lisa Pollock, Christian Friis and Ray Ford.
Click link at bottom for 6 pages of photos and observations from
this year's survey.
SHOREBIRD OBSERVATIONS: For most species
only the high count day is given in checklist order.
Black-bellied Plover: 71 on 15 August -
all adults molting from alternate to basic plumage. We did not see
juveniles, which normally begin arriving in James Bay in late August
and early September.
American Golden-Plover: 2 on 14 August -
all adults molting from alternate to basic plumage. Juveniles
normally start arriving in James Bay in late August and early
Semipalmated Plover: 176 on 15 August -
Killdeer: 17 on 15 August - 1/2
Spotted Sandpiper: 17 on 15 August - 2
adults in full alternate plumage, 15 juveniles.
Greater Yellowlegs: 214 on 16 August -
more than 1/2 juveniles. Adults were molting from alternate to basic
plumage. Many adults were in wing molt suggesting that a good number
of adults undergo a complete prebasic molt in James Bay before
continuing south. Of those adult shorebird species that molt during
migration, most molt only body feathers and delay wing molt until
reaching the wintering grounds.
Lesser Yellowlegs: 454 on 16 August -
Whimbrel: 14 unaged birds on 16 August.
Hudsonian Godwit: 556 molting adults on
13 August and 448 on 15 August. No juveniles as of the 16th. They
should arrive soon. Most adults depart James Bay by early September
whereas the juveniles remain well into September.
Marbled Godwit: 5 juveniles on 12 August
were the last sightings.
Ruddy Turnstone: 994 on 16 August.
Mostly adults with only a few juveniles.
RED KNOT: 705 on 14 August, 1989 on 15th
and 994 on 16th. Most were adults with about 8-10% juveniles. Many
adults were bright red suggesting that they were recently arrived
males from the breeding grounds. On 15th at high tide, knots flew in
late evening to the tip of Longridge to roost for the night.
Sanderling: 153 molting adults on 15
August. First juvenile on 16 August.
Semipalmated Sandpiper: 4300 mostly
juveniles on 16 August.
WESTERN SANDPIPER? Doug McRae
photographed a possible adult on 10 August. See 2 photos on page 2
http://www.jeaniron.ca/2010/JamesBay2010/longridge2.htm We sent
the photos out for opinions. One reviewer said, "White-rumped is a
reasonable conclusion. I don't see anything obviously wrong. The
rufous bird in the second photo has the same bulk and same outline
as the White-rumped to its left." Readers are invited to comment.
There is one previous report of Western Sandpiper from James Bay.
Least Sandpiper: 222 on 15 August. Most
were juveniles except for a few adults.
White-rumped Sandpiper: This is most
common shorebird at Longridge. 6650 molting adults on 16 August.
Some recent arrivals (males?) were still in worn alternate plumage.
The west coast of James Bay is a critical stopover site for
White-rumps to fatten and molt before migrating to the wintering
grounds in southern South America. The first juveniles begin
arriving in late August.
Pectoral Sandpiper: 252 on 15 August.
Pectorals are not on the tidal mudflats. They prefer short and
medium height grassy areas.
Dunlin: 141 adults on 16 August.
BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER: 1 adult on 15
August, 2 adults and 4 (first) juveniles on 16th.
Short-billed Dowitcher: 5 juveniles on
Wilson's Snipe: 35 on 16 August.
Wilson's Phalarope: 1 molting juvenile
on 15 and 16 August.
Red-necked Phalarope: 3 juveniles on 16
OTHER BIRDS: Little Gull, 3 molting
adults and 1 molting into second basic plumage on 16 August. Black
Tern, 1 adult on 16 August. Common and Arctic Terns, 18 adults and
juveniles on 16 August. After checking many small terns, we conclude
that Common Terns are more frequent than previously believed. Great
Horned Owl, 2 duetting on 15 and 16 August.
Common Nighthawk, 1 on 14 August.
Eastern Kingbird, 3 on 16 August and 1 on 17 August. Tree Swallow,
152 on 15 August and 321 on 16 August. Bank Swallow. 31 on 15 August
and 62 on 16 August. Cliff Swallow, 18 on 15 August and 80 on 16
August. Barn Swallow, 1 on 15 and 16 August.
SWIFT, one was seen on 16 August by Doug
McRae and Don Sutherland during a major swallow migration. It had a
distinct whitish throat and contrasting pale rump strongly
suggesting a Vaux's Swift (no Ontario records) from western North
America. The observers are confident that it was not a Chimney
Swift, which breeds farther south in Ontario. They will file reports
with the Ontario Bird Records Committee.
HAWK FLIGHTS: Two significant flights
were observed along the coast during southwest winds on 15 and 16
August. Hawks were moving south along Longridge Point. Northern
Harrier, 12 adults and juveniles on 15 August and 11 on 16th.
Sharp-shinned Hawk, 2 juveniles on 15 August and 1 juvenile on 16th.
Northern Goshawk, 1 adult and 3 juveniles on 15 August. Broad-winged
Hawk, 1 adult and 6 juveniles on 15 August; 16 on 16th, over half
the birds seen well enough to age were juveniles.
Red-tailed Hawk, 1 adult, 2 juveniles
and 1 unaged bird on 16 August.
Merlin, 13 on 16 August. Peregrine
Falcon, 3 juveniles and 1 unaged bird on 16 August.
BUTTERFLIES: One new species since last
report is Hoary Comma on 15 August.
DRAGONFLIES: Two new species since last
report are Taiga Bluet and White-faced Meadowhawk on 15 August.
ONTARIO SHOREBIRD CONSERVATION PLAN.
SNOW AND ICE COVER MAP shows James Bay
reaching deep into central Canada.
MAP 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 in Nunavut Territory.
The waters and seabed of James Bay are internal parts of Canada
under exclusive federal jurisdiction and not part of Ontario, Quebec
PHOTOS OF SHOREBIRDS AND SURVEYORS:
Jean Iron and Ron Pittaway, Toronto,
Longridge Point Red Knot and Shorebird Surveys in 2009
Akimiski Island Shorebirds and More
Variation in White-rumped Sandpipers at Longridge Point on James Bay
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