James Bay Shorebird Project 2018 - Reports

Longridge Point from 31 July to 13 August - Page 10 of 10


Below are two reports on the Ontbirds and Shorebirds Listservs


Report #1 on 7 August 2018

This is Jean Iron's first report for the period July 31 to August 7, 2018 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 crews are at Little Piskwamish and Northbluff Point. Locations shown on map in link #1 below. The vast tidal mudflats and coastal marshes make James Bay one of the most important shorebird stopover sites in North America. Surveys under the direction of Christian Friis of the Canadian Wildlife Service with partners Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Bird Studies Canada and Trent University in conjunction with a larger conservation initiative involving the James Bay First Nations and Nature Canada.

LONGRIDGE CREW: The 7 surveyors are Doug McRae (crew lead), Isabel Apkarian, Jean Iron, Michael Runtz, Hannah Shinton, Riley Walsh and Ross Wood. Hannah Shinton is a student with the Environmental Visual Communications course that is run through Fleming College and the Royal Ontario Museum. She is producing a video on how traditional ecological knowledge and western science can work together to help protect important areas and species such as the James Bay coast (Mark Peck pers. comm.).

SHOREBIRD OBSERVATIONS: 26 species of shorebirds to date. Maximum counts for each species listed below. Arrival dates of juveniles reported. Observations only for Longridge Point.

 Black-bellied Plover: 76 adults on Aug 6.

 American Golden Plover: 1 adult on Aug 1 to 6.

Semipalmated Plover: 173 adults on Aug 3. First juvenile on Aug 3.

Killdeer: 8 on Aug 5 including 1 ad and 2 half-grown young. 

Whimbrel: Seen daily, high counts 18 on Aug 2 and 17 on 3rd and 6th.

Hudsonian Godwit: 232 on Aug 2. After fattening most will fly non-stop to South America.

Marbled Godwit: 4 on Aug 3. An isolated population of a few thousand birds breeds at 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.

Ruddy Turnstone: 311 adults on Aug 6.

Red Knot: Endangered rufa subspecies. 1500 adults (about 40 flags read) on Aug 1 and 411 on 2nd. Adult knots fatten and undergo variable amounts of body molt before most migrate non-stop to South America. No juveniles yet but still early for them. Juveniles do not molt while at James Bay.

Stilt Sandpiper: 2 molting adults on Aug 6.

Sanderling: 69 molting and fading adults on Aug 6.

Dunlin: 21 adults (no juveniles) on Aug 1. Subspecies hudsonia. This subspecies molts in the north before migration which accounts for its late arrival in the south with most arriving there after mid-September.

Baird's Sandpiper: Adult on Aug 6 by Riley Walsh.

Least Sandpiper: 86 adults and juveniles on Aug 6.

White-rumped Sandpiper: 3728 molting adults on Aug 2. James Bay may be the most important fall staging area for this sandpiper in North America. After fattening most overfly southern Canada and the United States going to South America.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Adult on Aug 2. 

Pectoral Sandpiper: 303 adults on Aug 3.

Semipalmated Sandpiper: 3388 adults on Aug 3. First 2 juveniles on 6th. Low number of juveniles for the date. Most James Bay birds go via the Bay of Fundy to South America. These are the two most important stopover sites for southbound Semipalmated Sandpipers in North America.

Peeps: 2503 unidentified on Aug 3, probably mostly Semipalmated and White-rumped Sandpipers. 

Short-billed Dowitcher: 1 adult on Aug 3. Most adults have departed the north. First juvenile on Aug 6.

Wilson's Snipe: 14 on Aug 3.

Spotted Sandpiper:  5 juveniles on Aug 6.

Solitary Sandpiper: 3 adults on Aug 6.

Greater Yellowlegs: 91 adults and juveniles on Aug 4. Ross Wood and Jean saw a Greater Yellowlegs catch and eat a Wood Frog.

Lesser Yellowlegs: 212 adults and juveniles on Aug 3. There has been a marked decline in numbers of this yellowlegs. Hunting mortality on the wintering grounds is a threat. Ross Wood is attaching 9 satellite transmitters on adult Lesser Yellowlegs as part of an international study to determine migratory routes, wintering areas, assess survival and return rates. Ross is taking blood and feather samples. Genetics and stable isotopes will be used to determine origins of birds taken on the wintering grounds.

Wilson's Phalarope: 4 juveniles on Aug 7. A small isolated population nests in the prairie-like marshes of James Bay.

Red-necked Phalarope: One on Aug 3.

SHOREBIRD BREEDING POOR IN 2018: It was an overall a poor breeding season for shorebirds in the Canadian Arctic. A poor breeding season was also reported in Greenland and the North Slope of Alaska. The situation this summer was mainly a delayed (late) snow melt such that many birds did not breed. Those birds that did nest late had low success. Summer storms also caused nest abandonment and many nests were depredated. Paul Smith of the Canadian Wildlife Service commented, "I expect that juvenile numbers should be low, but I would be happy to be wrong."

SELECTED BIRD SIGHTINGS: American Black Duck, 21 on Aug 6. Black Scoter, 685 mostly molting males on Aug 6. Bonaparte's Gull, 591 on Aug 4, almost all adults some starting to molt, couple of juveniles. Little Gull (3), adult, juvenile and first summer/second winter on Aug 4. Arctic Tern, 2 adults and 1 juvenile on Aug 3. Common Tern, 34 on Aug 4.  YELLOW RAIL, 4 heard ticking sometimes all night from camp. Ross Wood banded a Yellow Rail on Aug 4.

Sora, 2-4 every day in pond near camp. Peregrine Falcon, 1 on 1, 3, 4, 6 Aug. Merlin, 2 on Aug 1, 5, 6. Bohemian Waxwing, 2 on Aug 3. Olive-sided Flycatcher, 1 on Aug 4. Northern Shrike, 1 juvenile on Aug 3 and 5th. Canada Jay, 3 regulars but not tame. Boreal Chickadee, 3 on Aug 3, regular.

Tennessee Warbler, 10 on Aug 1. Northern Waterthrush, 2 on Aug 4.

Clay-colored Sparrow, 3 on Aug 3. LeConte's Sparrows, 4-6 everyday, still singing. Nelson's Sparrows, 8 on Aug 6 (James Bay subspecies alter) still singing. Winter Finches: Purple Finch, 1 on Aug 4 and 5. White-winged Crossbill, 5 on Aug 3. Common Redpoll, 1 on Aug 1 and 3. Pine Siskin, 36 on Aug 4.

MAMMALS: Beluga (White Whale) 3 on Aug 3. Black Bear, 2 near camp and fresh scat seen. Polar Bear (1 at Longridge 18 July 2016) is rare south of Akimiski Island (see map link #1) where the world's most southerly population spend the summer. River Otter, 1 on Aug 6 seen by Michael Runtz and Isabel Apkarian.

1. Map of southern James Bay shows location of Longridge Point. http://www.jeaniron.ca/2018/JB18/map18.htm

 2. Population Estimates of North American Shorebirds (2012)

3. Southbound Shorebirds - Annotated Checklist.

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 transports crews to and from the camps. Thanks to Paul Smith (CWS), Declan Troy and Lisa Pollock for information on shorebird nesting success this summer. Jean thanks an anonymous donor for financial assistance.

This is Jean's 15th consecutive summer surveying birds in the Hudson Bay Lowlands including her 10th consecutive year surveying shorebirds on James Bay

 Ron Pittaway, Toronto ON


Report #2 on 22 August 2018

This is my second and summary report for the period 6 to 13 August 2018 from Longridge Point (51.798942N, 080.69204W) on the southwest coast of James Bay in Ontario about 910 km (565 mi) north of Toronto. This report pertains only to Longridge. The vast tidal mudflats make James Bay one of the most important shorebird stopover sites in North America.

LINK to 10 pages of photos and videos.   http://www.jeaniron.ca/2018/JB18/p1.htm

More will be added so please check back.

SHOREBIRDS: We recorded 26 species of shorebirds from 31 July to 13 August. Notable counts since last report:

Black-bellied Plover: 154 adults on 11 August

American golden-Plover: 7 on 10th

Semipalmated Plover: 100 on 9th and 10th

Hudsonian Godwit: 636 on 12th

Ruddy Turnstone: 956 on 12th

Red Knot: 361 on 11th

Sanderling: 340 on 12th

White-rumped Sandpiper 4600 on 12th

Pectoral Sandpiper: 80 on 12th. First juvenile on 10th

Semipalmated Sandpiper high count: 2679 on 10th

Wilson's Snipe: 35 on 11th

Greater Yellowlegs: 65 on 12th

Lesser Yellowlegs: 182 on 10th


Black Scoter: 775 on 9th

American White Pelican: 5 on 12th

Rough-legged Hawk: 1 on 11th

Sora: 3 on 8th

Sandhill Crane: 45 on 11th

Bonaparte's Gull: 1135 on 12th

Little Gull: 1 adult on 9th, 10th & 11th, and 3 on 12th - adult and 2 juveniles (Doug McRae took photos)

Caspian Tern: 1 adult on 12th

Arctic Tern: 1 adult on 12th

Common Nighthawk: 1 on 9th

Olive-sided Flycatcher: 1 on 8 and 9th 

Blackpoll Warbler: 10 on 12th

Leconte's Sparrow: 5 on 12th

LONGRIDGE CREW: 7 crew members were Isabel Apkarian, Jean Iron, Doug McRae (crew lead), Michael Runtz, Hannah Shinton, Riley Walsh and Ross Wood

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: 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 Canada.

We look forward to James Bay receiving recognition as a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.

Jean Iron and Ron Pittaway

Toronto, Ontario on 22 August 2018