Longridge Point, James Bay, Ontario


Below are 7 reports posted to Ontbirds and Shorebirds listservs


Shorebird Breeding Success in 2010
Posted 16 July 2010

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 2009.



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

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 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 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 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 month.
Ron Pittaway, Minden, Ontario, Canada


James Bay Report # 2

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. 

SHOREBIRD 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. 

Black-bellied Plover: 2 adults on 20-21 July.

Semipalmated Plover: 26 probable adults in flight on 22 July. 

Killdeer: 10 on 21 July. Late nest with 4 eggs hatched on 22 July. 

Greater Yellowlegs: 137 mostly adults on 19 July. 

Lesser Yellowlegs: 480 (1/3 juveniles) on 18 July. 

Whimbrel: 78 adults on 20 July. 

Hudsonian 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. 

Marbled Godwit: None seen.

Ruddy Turnstone: 102 on 22 July appeared to be mostly females in worn alternate plumage.

RED KNOT: 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. 

Sanderling: 22 fading and molting adults on 18 July.

Semipalmated Sandpiper: 1095 adults (no juveniles) on 22 July.

Least Sandpiper: first juvenile on 17 July. 80 (1/2 juveniles) on 20 July.

White-rumped Sandpiper: 109 molting adults on 22 July.

Pectoral Sandpiper: 540 adults (not molting) on 20 July.

Dunlin: 11 worn adults not yet in active molt on 22 July.

Stilt Sandpiper: 2 molting adults on 21-22 July.

Short-billed 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.

Wilson's Snipe: 4 still winnowing on 19 July. 

WILSON'S 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.


Birds: American 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.

Butterflies: Two additions since last report: Skipper sp. (genus Polites) and Northern Crescent.

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.

Ron Pittaway, 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 order.

Black-bellied Plover: 21 molting adults on 29 July.

American Golden-Plover: 2 adults on 25 July. 

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 29 July.

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 July.

Semipalmated Sandpiper: 4338 mostly adults on 31 July, first juveniles (a few) on 30th.

WESTERN SANDPIPER: 2 on 29 July seen by Mark Peck.

Least Sandpiper: 126 mainly juveniles on 31 July.

White-rumped Sandpiper: 2450 molting adults on 31 July. A few are still in almost full but heavily worn alternate plumage.

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 29 July.

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) communities.

Southern James Bay map shows location of Longridge Point www.jeaniron.ca/2010/longridgemap.jpg

Jean will call again in a week and I'll post another update.

Ron Pittaway, Minden, Ontario


James Bay Report # 4

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 (writer).

 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 order. 

Black-bellied Plover: 212 adults on 6 August. 

American Golden-Plover: 7 adults on 6 August. 

Semipalmated Plover: 213 adults on 5 August.

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 August.

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 download map.


Hudsonian Godwit: 839 molting adults on 6 August.

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 August.

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 6 August.

Wilson's Snipe: 11 on 6 August. Flushed while walking.

Wilson's Phalarope: 1 juvenile on 4 and 5 August.

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 Owl? Lynx?

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 central Canada.


Photo of Longridge Point extending 6 km into James Bay http://www.jeaniron.ca/2010/Longridge-Point3791.jpg

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 noted.
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 5th.
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.

Semipalmated 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 on 13th.
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 juveniles.
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. Red-breasted 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 the first
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 www.jeaniron.ca/2010/longridgemap.jpg

Next report 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 September.

Semipalmated Plover: 176 on 15 August - 1/2 juveniles.

Killdeer: 17 on 15 August - 1/2 juveniles

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 - mostly juveniles.

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 of website 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 15 August

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 August.

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. www.on.ec.gc.ca/wildlife/plans/pdf/plans-shorebird-e.pdf

SNOW AND ICE COVER MAP shows James Bay reaching deep into central Canada. www.natice.noaa.gov/pub/ims/ims_gif/DATA/cursnow_usa.gif

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 or Nunavut. www.jeaniron.ca/2009/James-Bay-2009-REKN.jpg



Jean Iron and Ron Pittaway, Toronto, Ontario



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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