James Bay Shorebird Surveys
2016 - Reports
Page 7 of 7
Below are three reports posted on the
Ontbirds and Shorebirds Listservs
Report # 1 on 7 August
This is Jean Iron's first report for the
period 30 July to 6 August 2016 from Longridge Point (Lat 51.798681
N, Lon 80.691619 W) on the southwest coast of James Bay in Ontario.
Longridge is about 910 km (565 mi) north of Toronto. It is one of
four shorebird camps this summer. See locations on map in link #1
below. Surveys are under the direction of Christian Friis of the
Canadian Wildlife Service with partners the Royal Ontario Museum,
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Bird Studies
Canada, Trent University, Nature Canada and Moose Cree First Nation.
Shorebird population declines and the need to protect crucial
intertidal habitats are driving research.
LONGRIDGE CREW: The seven crew members
are Allie Anderson (Crew leader, Trent University, Peterborough ON),
Barbara Charlton (ON), Dan Froehlich (Washington State), Kathryn Hoo
(ON), Jean Iron (ON), Amie MacDonald (ON) and Felicia Sanders (South
SHOREBIRD OBSERVATIONS: 22 species to
date. Total shorebirds 15,617 on Aug 6. Maximum counts and dates for
each species at Longridge listed below. Counts are done from 2.5
hours before high tide to 2.5 hours after when shorebirds are more
concentrated. Turnover from adults to juveniles is occurring rapidly
for many (not all) species.
Black-bellied Plover: 61 adults on Aug
American Golden-Plover: 1 first
summer/second winter on Aug 6.
Semipalmated Plover: 682 on July 31. 164
mostly adults on Aug 4. Many newly arrived juveniles on Aug 6.
Killdeer: 10 on Aug 4.
Spotted Sandpiper: 7 on Aug 3.
Solitary Sandpiper: 1 adult on Aug 3. 1
juvenile on Aug 6.
Greater Yellowlegs: 664 on Aug 6, 60%
Lesser Yellowlegs: 776 on Aug 6, mostly
Whimbrel: 41 on Aug 3. First juvenile on
July 31. 95 mostly juveniles on Aug 6.
Marbled Godwit: 5 juveniles on Aug 4. An
isolated population breeds on southern James Bay. This population
migrates southwest to the Gulf of California, not to the Atlantic
Coast as once believed.
Hudsonian Godwit: 368 molting and
fattening adults on July 31. 241 including first 2 juveniles on Aug
6. Many thousands are gathering farther north along James Bay. Most
will fly non-stop to South America.
Ruddy Turnstone: 400 adults on Aug 1.
RED KNOT: Endangered rufa
subspecies. 6000 adults seen on Aug 2 at Little Piskwamish Point
South (fide Christian Friis). Smaller numbers at Longridge with 520
molting adults on Aug 4. Flags read from United States and
Argentina. James Bay knots concentrate at a few favored stopover
locations. They fatten and undergo variable amounts of body molt
before most make the long non-stop flight to South America. This
spring (2016) nano-tagged knotsfrom Delaware Bay were detected in
James Bay for a day or two going north.
Nanotags give information on timing of
migration, migration routes, how long staying at staging areas,
breeding and wintering areas.
Sanderling: 5 molting adults on Aug 1.
Dunlin: Subspecies hudsonia. 10
molting adults on Aug 3. Dunlins are feeding on amphipod shrimp.
Baird's Sandpiper: 1 adult on 31 July.
Least Sandpiper: 741 mostly juveniles on
Aug 6. Most adults have departed from the north.
PEEPS: 10,000 mostly Semipalmated and
White-rumped Sandpipers on Aug 2 at Little Piskwamish Point South
(fide Christian Friis).
White-rumped Sandpiper: 3400 molting
adults on Aug 6. Juveniles normally don't arrive until September.
James Bay is the most important fall staging area for this sandpiper
in North America. 1 adult banded on Aug 6 was very fat (fat score of
7) and was well molted into winter plumage. After fattening most
adults overfly southern Canada and the United States going directly
to South America.
Pectoral Sandpiper: 147 adults and 1
juvenile (first) on Aug 2.
Semipalmated Sandpiper: 800 on Aug 4
including 50 juveniles. First juvenile on 31 July. 1070 on Aug 6
including many more newly arrived juveniles.James Bay and the Bay of
Fundy are the two most important stopover sites for southbound
Semipalmated Sandpipers in North America.
Wilson's Snipe: 6 on Aug 6, 1 still
winnowing on Aug 3.
Red-necked Phalarope: 1 juvenile July
SHOREBIRD FOODS: Shorebirds on 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 and
relatives), worms and dipteran (fly) larvae (Ontario Shorebird
Conservation Plan 2003). James Bay shorebirds are apparently not
eating biofilm or "slime mud" as in some other areas (fide Allie
Anderson). Biofilm is a thin layer of nutritious slime on mudflats.
UPCOMING AERIAL SURVEY: Legendary
shorebird experts Guy Morrison and Ken Ross will be doing an aerial
survey on August 9 going from Hannah Bay near the Quebec border to
the mouth of the Ekwan River opposite Akimiski Island. They are
focusing on Red Knots but will be counting all shorebirds. A nanotag
detector will be attached to bottom of helicopter. Survey funded by
Ontario's Species at Risk Research Fund.
PRAIRIE FALCON: An adult Prairie Falcon
(found by Dan Froehlich) was seen 26 July 2016 at Longridge.
Presumably this same Prairie Falcon was seen Aug 2 at Little
Piskwamish Point South. The Prairie Falcon (photos taken) was seen
again yesterday (Aug 6) at Longridge Point. This 2016 individual is
the second record for James Bay. The first Prairie Falcon (a
juvenile) for James Bay was found 2 August 2013 at Little Piskwamish
Point, but not afterwards. It was accepted by the OBRC.
SOME OTHER BIRDS: Yellow Rails often
heard ticking, high count of 8 on Aug 1. 1 Sora on July 31. American
Black Duck, 16 on Aug 3. Black Scoter, 1000 mostly molting males on
July 31. Common Goldeneye, 120 on Aug 3.
Osprey, 1 on Aug 2. Bald Eagle, 3 on Aug
4. Northern Goshawk, juvenile on Aug 4. Northern Harrier, 1 seen
daily. Merlin on Aug 3/4.
Great Black-backed Gull, 2 first summer
birds on Aug 3. Bonaparte's Gull 128 on July 31, 2 juveniles on Aug
2. Franklin's Gull on Jul 28, 29, 31 and Aug 2 and 6. Arctic Tern, 4
on Aug 3. Common Tern, 22 on Aug 3.
Alder Flycatcher, 8 on Aug 4. Gray Jay
(4) and Boreal Chickadee (2) regular at camp. Rusty Blackbird, 11 on
Clay-colored Sparrow, 2 on Aug 1.
Savannah Sparrow, 67 on Aug 4. Nelson's Sparrow (subspecies alter),
13 on Aug 1. Le Conte's Sparrow, 5 on July 30. Both Nelson's and Le
Conte's heard and seen regularly. Lincoln's Sparrow, 6 on Aug 4.
White-winged Crossbills, 141 on Aug 2 with some flocks seen flying
in off James Bay. Common Redpoll, 6 on Jul 30. Pine Siskins also
MAMMALS: Beluga (White Whale) 1 dead on
beach found July 17. Bald Eagles feeding on it. A Polar Bear was
seen July 18, but not since. They are rare south of Akimiski Island
where the world's most southerly population spends the summer. A
Black Bear seen regularly. Gray Wolf, 2 seen. Family of Striped
Skunks around camp. No voles and mice recorded (fide Dan Froehlich).
REPTILES: Eastern Gartersnake on Aug 2.
BUTTERFLIES: Milbert's Tortoiseshell
found by Barb Charlton.
1. Map showing locations of survey camps
2. Population Estimates of North
American Shorebirds 2012
3. Guide to Southbound Shorebirds
WESTERN HEMISPHERE SHOREBIRD RESERVE:
The vast pristine intertidal mudflats and prairie-like coastal
marshes of James Bay comprise one of the most important shorebird
areas in the world. The hope is that James Bay or portions thereof
will be designated a "Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve of
Hemispheric Importance". James Bay greatly exceeds the minimum
criteria for this designation.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Survey camps are
rented from the Moose Cree First Nation.The Ontario Ministry of
Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF) provides accommodations in
the staff house while crews are in Moosonee. These surveys would not
be possible without the many hours of dedicated volunteer effort.
Jean thanks an anonymous donor for financial assistance.
Jean messages me by DeLorme inReach
two-way satellite communicator with GPS]and sometimes by satellite
phone from out on the tidal flats. She's living her dream with the
shorebirds. Second report in 6-7 days.
Ron Pittaway (for Jean), Toronto,