This is Jean Iron's first report for the
period July 29 to August 5, 2017 from Longridge Point (51.798942N,
080.69204W) on the southwest coast of James Bay in Ontario about 910
km (565 mi) north of Toronto. Two other survey crews are at Little
Piskwamish and Northbluff Point. See locations on
map in link #1 below. The vast tidal mudflats make James Bay one
of the most important shorebird stopover sites in North America.
Surveys are under the direction of Christian Friis of the Canadian
Wildlife Service (Environment and Climate Change Canada) with
partners Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Trent
University, and Bird Studies Canada in conjunction with a larger
conservation initiative involving James Bay First Nations and Nature
LONGRIDGE CREW: The 6 crew members are
Anne Blondin (ON), Mark Dorriesfield (ON), Dan Froehlich (WA State),
Jean Iron (ON), Nicole Richardson (ON), Kiah Walker (NH).
SHOREBIRD OBSERVATIONS: 24 species of
shorebirds to date. Maximum count dates for each species listed
below. Arrival dates of first juveniles also reported. Observations
pertain only to Longridge Point.
Black-bellied Plover: 23 adults on Aug
American Golden Plover: 1 adult on July
Semipalmated Plover: 72 adults on Aug 2.
First juvenile on Aug 4.
Killdeer: 5 on Aug 2, adults and
Spotted Sandpiper: 5 juveniles on Aug 4.
Solitary Sandpiper: 1 juvenile on Aug
Greater Yellowlegs: 78 mostly adults on
Lesser Yellowlegs: 105 on July 31,
mostly juveniles on Aug 4.
Whimbrel: 28 on Aug 4, first juvenile on
Marbled Godwit: 4 on Aug 3. First
juvenile on August 2. An isolated population breeds on southern
James Bay. This eastern population migrates southwest to the Gulf of
California, not to the Atlantic or Gulf Coasts as once believed
before satellite tracking.
Hudsonian Godwit: 174 on Aug 3. First
juvenile on Aug 2. After fattening most will fly non-stop to South
Ruddy Turnstone: 226 adults on Aug 3.
Red Knot: Endangered rufa subspecies.
279 mostly adults on Aug 4. First juveniles (3) on Aug 3, 6 on Aug
4. Adult knots fatten and undergo variable amounts of body molt
before most migrate non-stop to South America.
Juveniles do not molt while on James
Sanderling: 18 molting and faded adults
on Aug 4.
Semipalmated Sandpiper: 4565 mostly
adults on Aug 2. Proportion of juveniles increasing daily. They
fatten over 2-3 weeks before making a non-stop flight of several
days to northern South America. James Bay and the Bay of Fundy are
the two most important stopover sites for southbound Semipalmated
Sandpipers in North America.
Baird's Sandpiper: An adult and a
juvenile on Aug 2.
Least Sandpiper: 49 on July 31. Now
White-rumped Sandpiper: 3242 molting
adults on Aug 2. James Bay may be the most important fall staging
area for this sandpiper in North America. After fattening most will
overfly southern Canada and the United States going to South
Pectoral Sandpiper: 670 adults on Aug
Dunlin: Subspecies hudsonia. 138 adults
(no juveniles) on Aug 1. This subspecies molts in the north before
migration which accounts for its late arrival in the south with most
arriving there after mid-September.
Short-billed Dowitcher: First juveniles
(5) on July 31 and 6 juveniles on Aug 2. Most adults have departed
Wilson's Snipe: 2 on Aug 4.
Wilson's Phalarope: Adult male on Aug 2.
A small isolated population breeds in the prairie-like marshes of
Red-necked Phalarope: One juvenile on
Aug 2 and 4th.
HUDSON BAY LOWLANDS REPORT: Rod Brook (MNRF)
reports a good breeding season for Canada Geese (subspecies
interior) and Lesser Snow Geese on Akimiski Island in Nunavut and in
northern Ontario. He also reports that Whimbrels had a good breeding
season at Burntpoint on the Hudson Bay Coast. Rod and Glen Brown (MNRF)
are now studying the effects of climate change on permafrost along
OTHER BIRD HIGHLIGHTS: Black Scoter:
1501 mostly molting adult males on Aug 3, females with broods
inland. Northern Goshawk: 1 on Aug 4. YELLOW RAIL: 1 ticking on July
31, dry summer may account for low number. American White Pelican:
13 on Aug 4. Sandhill Crane: 23 on July 31. Bonaparte's Gull 940
adults on Aug 3 starting to molt hoods plus 20 juveniles. Northern
Shrike: juvenile seen. Canada Jay: 3 regulars. Boreal Chickadee: 3
on July 31.
LeConte's Sparrow: 4 on Aug 3 still
singing. Nelson's Sparrow (subspecies alter): 15 on Aug 2 still
MAMMALS: Harbor Seal on July 31. Beluga
(White Whale) dead on beach. Pine Marten, Striped Skunk and Snowshoe
Hare around camp. Black Bear with 2 cubs on Aug 3. Polar Bears (1 at
Longridge last summer) are rare south of Akimiski Island (see
map link) where the world's most southerly population spends the
summer. Jean sent this message the evening of Aug 3, "walking to
cabin from kitchen tent saw bright shining eyes staring at me, not a
small animal." The cabins are protected by an electric fence.
1. Map of southern James Bay shows
location of Longridge Point.
2. Population Estimates of North
3. Southbound Shorebirds - Annotated
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Survey camps are
rented from the Moose Cree First Nation.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural
Resources and Forestry (MNRF) provides accommodations in the staff
house while crews are in Moosonee. Thanks to Rod Brook of MNRF for
logistical support. MNRF helicopter pilot Dan Ireland transported
crews from Moosonee to and from the camps. Jean thanks an anonymous
donor for financial assistance.
This is Jean's 14th summer surveying
birds in the Hudson Bay Lowlands including her 9th consecutive year
surveying shorebirds on James Bay.
Ron Pittaway, Toronto ON