Friday, 19 October 2012

Update from Moosonee

Woohoo! Less than 20 hours to do until Alan and I are back on the ocean at Netitishi Point, James Bay. A quick recap of the birds in the last few days:

Yesterday was spent doing more driving then birding, but I made a bunch of stops and saw a few birds. It was surprisingly slow and I had a really hard time turning up ANY passerines. On the last trip (in late September), sparrows and pipits were everywhere! Anyways, the highlight was probably a Surf Scoter at the New Liskeard lagoons. I checked about 8 other spots without any real highlights.

This morning we drove up to Fraserdale to catch the train and also to check Abitibi Canyon. That place just screams mega-rarity, today especially with the construction being finished. That pesky wheatear wouldn't show though. We had a few sparrows that were relatively late for Cochrane District, including Savannah, Swamp, Song, and White-throated Sparrow. It was also good to get re-aquianted with Spruce Grouse! The road from Smooth Rock Falls to Abitibi Canyon has to be the best road I've ever driven for Spruce Grouse. I've seen them every time. Today was slow with only 2 Spruce and 1 Ruffed!

Spruce Grouse - road to Abitibi Canyon

We got on the train and after 3 hours of scanning every tree and hydro pole for Northern Hawk-owls, we were skunked! I don't recall seeing anything interesting on the train.

Moosonee was a bit of an ornithological desert as well with all landbirds seemingly gone. It was nice to get a few Boreal Chickadees, the first Pine Grosbeaks of the trip, and a few pipits, Horned Larks, and Snow Buntings. A few Redheads at the lagoons were record late for southern James Bay, and an adult Thayer's Gull at the dump was my first of the fall, and also my first for southern James Bay.

The most astounding part of the day was the summer like temperatures. Around sunset it was about 15 degrees with a warm, light breeze. It felt more like early September than late October! Dark skies to the northeast combined with sun on the river led to some dramatic lighting.

Moose River


I had a bit of a scare last night when I read a post on Ontbirds about an adult godwit at Presqu\ile that had barring on its tail....however, it was very distant and the observer did not see the bird fly (to see relevant field marks) so it made the ID not confirmed. Considering the date, it is very unusual for an adult Hudsonian to be around. Additionally, it is prime rarity season so it seemed like a possibility that it could have been Ontario's first Bar-tailed Godwit. I was freaking out a bit since we had a train to catch in the morning and cancelling that to drive 8 hours to Presqu'ile would have thrown a huge wrench in the plan! Fortunately, this morning the godwit was seen closer and the ID confirmed as a Hudsonian, a species I saw hundreds of in James Bay this summer. A relief!


Netitishi dreaming is a Top 10 list of crazy rarities that I think Alan and I have a chance at seeing this trip! I have them listed from least likely to most likely. Note that we will almost certainly see none of these species, but it is fun to dream sometimes.

Bar-tailed Godwit
Short-tailed Shearwater
White Wagtail (though any other wagtail species would be OK)
Leach's Storm-petrel
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
Glaucous-winged Gull
Atlantic Puffin
Great Shearwater
Ivory Gull

My next "real" blog post will probably be November 1 when we return from Netitishi. Until then I have a few pre-written posts that should automatically post throughout the two weeks. Cheers!

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