This is Jean Iron's first report by
satellite phone for the period 15 - 20 July 2013 from East Point on
Hannah Bay, Ontario, on the south coast of James Bay. Hannah Bay is
a new site to survey the shorebirds using southwestern James Bay.
The Hannah Bay crew comprises Christian Friis, shorebird biologist
with the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) and volunteers Jean Iron
and Antonio Coral. Two other crews are at Longridge Point and Little
Piskwamish Point. See map link below. Study sites are part of the
Western James Bay Shorebird Survey. These studies may lead to legal
protection such as a biosphere reserve. Decisions to protect areas
will involve the James Bay First Nations.
The Hannah Bay camp consists of three
fine cabins on a dry ridge backing onto the boreal forest
(spruce/willow) and about 200 m from the high tide mark. The coast
is rocky with a grassy fringe and pools when the tide is low. There
is a large shallow bay and marsh south of camp.
SHOREBIRDS: 16 species to date. The high
count and date for each species is given. All migrant shorebirds so
far have been adults. The first juveniles will arrive soon. Reports
pertain to Hannah Bay (Lat 51.38, Lon 79.68) except where
Killdeer: Breeds. 5 adults including one
with a chick on 20 July.
Spotted Sandpiper: Breeds. 1 adult.
Greater Yellowlegs: Breeds on muskeg
inland from coast. 324 staging adults along coast on 20 July.
Lesser Yellowlegs: Breeds on muskeg
inland from coast. 294 staging adults along coast on 20 July.
Whimbrel: 8 on 19 July. Migrants from
Hudsonian Godwit: 180 on 19 July.
Staging adults from farther north. After fattening and undergoing
some body molt most will fly nonstop to South America.
Marbled Godwit: Breeds. 99 adults in
small flocks on 20 July. The disjunct James Bay population
apparently winters mostly around the Gulf of California instead of
the closer Atlantic Coast.
Ruddy Turnstone: 16 adults from farther
north on 20 July.
Red Knot: 27 adults on 20 July.
Southbound knots in Eastern Canada stage in two main areas where
they fatten for long flights to South America: (1) southwestern
James Bay in Ontario and (2) the Mingan Archipelago National Park
Reserve on the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Quebec.
Both locations are at approximately 50 degrees N latitude. There is
very little overlap in the populations using both sites. Staging and
fattening knots on James Bay specialize on bivalves on intertidal
mud flats before migrating to South America. The CWS and Parks
Canada on the Mingan Archipelago report good numbers of knots
arriving there suggesting a better breeding season than last summer.
The number of juveniles in August and September will be a better
indicator as will the counts on James Bay.
Semipalmated Sandpiper: 3665 migrant
adults on 20 July. This peep has declined sharply in numbers and is
of major conservation concern. The two main southbound staging areas
are the Bay of Fundy and James Bay. There is a project underway of
Mount Allison University in New Brunswick and CWS to find out
arrival times and length of stay at James Bay. This summer 40 radio
trackers are being placed on Semipalmated Sandpipers at Longridge
Point on James Bay to find out how long they stage there. A receiver
can track birds within a 5 km radius. A total of 178 birds will be
banded and flagged after radio marking the first 40.
Least Sandpiper: Breeds. 181 migrant
adults on 20 July.
White-rumped Sandpiper: 104 migrant
adults on 20 July.
Pectoral Sandpiper: 176 migrant adults
on 20 July.
Wilson's Snipe: Breeds. 7 on the 20
July. Still winnowing.
Wilson's Phalarope: Breeds. 1 adult on
20th. A small population breeds in the prairie-like marshes of
southwestern James Bay.
Red-necked Phalarope: 4 migrant adults
from farther north on 20 July.
OTHER BIRDS in no particular order: This
is a dry summer and recent temperatures have been above normal. No
Yellow Rails heard to date. This rail breeds in coastal sedge
marshes above the usual tidal zone and may be affected by drier
marshes as in recent years. Canada Goose, 450-500.
Ducks: Gadwall, American Wigeon,
American Black Duck (200), Mallard, Northern Pintail, female and 6
young on 20 July. Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup,
Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser and Common Merganser.
Common Loon. Double-crested Cormorant.
Bald Eagle, 1 adult and 2 immatures probably preying on Canada
Geese. Northern Harrier, only 1 adult male suggesting a low vole
year. Merlin. Bonaparte's Gull, small numbers of adults with one
beginning head molt. Common Tern (every day). Arctic Tern, 1 on 18
July. Common Raven. Alder Flycatcher. Tree Swallow, 6 on 20 July.
Black-capped Chickadee. Swainson's Thrush. BROWN THRASHER on 17-18
Warblers: Yellow Warbler,
Black-and-white Warbler and Common Yellowthroat.
Sparrows: Savannah Sparrow, Le Conte's
Sparrow (a few and singing), Nelson's Sparrow (singing, more common
than Le Conte's), Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow and White-throated
Sparrow. Red-winged Blackbird. White-winged Crossbill, 5.
MAMMALS: Large bull Moose on 17 July.
Gray Wolf, 2 sighted on 19 July.
Wolves observed stalking Canada Geese
and chasing them into the water but no kills noted. Red Squirrel.
HERPTILES: Eastern Gartersnake, "Hudson
Bay" American Toad, Wood Frog and Northern Leopard Frog.
BUTTERFLIES: White Admiral. Fritillary
sp. Skipper sp.
Map of survey sites on southern James
Snow/Ice Cover Map
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: The Western James Bay
Shorebird Survey is a cooperative effort spearheaded by the Canadian
Wildlife Service, Royal Ontario Museum , Ontario Ministry of Natural
Resources (OMNR), Bird Studies Canada and Moose Cree First Nation.
Additional support for the 2013 expedition was provided by TD
Friends of the Environment Foundation. The OMNR also provides
helicopter transport to and from field camps and accommodations in
the staff house while crews are in Moosonee. Thanks to Ken Abraham,
Rod Brook, Sarah Hagey and Kim Bennett of OMNR for logistical
support. Jean thanks an anonymous donor for financial assistance
allowing her to make satellite phone calls to me so timely reports
are available on the Ontbirds and Shorebirds listservs. Lastly,
without the many hours of dedicated volunteer support, this project
would not be possible.
Jean's second report will be in about