Sunday 4 November 2012

Netitishi Days 1 and 2

Days 1 and 2 - October 21 - 22, 2012
Day 3 - October 23, 2012
Days 4 and 5 - October 24 - 25, 2012
Days 6 and 7 - October 26 - 27, 2012
Days 8 and 9 - October 28 - 29, 2012
Days 10 and 11 - October 30 - 31, 2012
Day 12 - November 1, 2012

October 21, 2012
Weather: between 3 and 7 Celcius, overcast, winds WNW approx. 15 to 25 km/h
24 species

Our first day at Netitishi Point! Inclement weather grounded us on October 20, the day we were supposed to leave. The following morning the mist and fog was still all over so we were delayed yet again. That afternoon, our pilot picked us up since he had a window of opportunity between some bands of rain! As we took off the conditions looked pretty bad but we managed to keep flying and made it to Netitishi.

helicopter - Netitishi Point

Helicopter leaving  Netitishi Point

We cleaned up around the camp a bit and moved our stuff in. Alan picked the main cabin, closest to the coast, while I moved all my gear into the brand new cabin. It was actually really nice, clean, and with a brand new wood stove! By mid afternoon, we were looking at birds on the coast.

Literally the first bird I looked at when I started scanning with my scope was a Great Black-backed Gull - supposedly rare on the coast. We ended up seeing many throughout the trip.

I was scanning just before Alan arrived at the shelter when I picked up a Purple Sandpiper in flight with 3 Sanderlings, very close in front of me. Year bird #335, and the last of the code-2 birds I still needed! 

Not long after Alan arrived and before long he noticed a Gyrfalcon farther down the beach. I had very brief but definitive views of this lifer and year bird 336. Despite having my main "expected" target in the bag, the views were far from excellent and I really wanted to see another one throughout the trip. 

Other highlights on day 1 included an American Three-toed Woodpecker (heard only), and a few usual ducks including a single Surf Scoter and my first Long-tailed Ducks for southern James Bay. The Surf was record late for southern James Bay at the time, but we saw many more throughout the trip, until November 2. (Edit: The group last year had 2 Surf Scoters on November 9, thanks Ken for the correction)

record photo of the ATTW, taken the following day

October 22, 2012
Weather:  between 5 and 8 Celcius, overcast, winds WNW switching to the N, 10-15 km/h
37 species

Our first full day on the coast! The weather was overcast and gloomy, a theme that would continue for the entire trip. While walking around the woods in the morning, Alan found a nice male Spruce Grouse "posing" on a log. I know I've posted a lot of photos of Spruce Grice to the blog lately, but here's two more! 

Spruce Grouse - Netitishi Point

This ended up being the only grouse we saw at Netitishi, though Ruffed Grouse are also in the area. 

Spruce Grouse - Netitishi Point

Shorebirds can be found on the flats until freeze-up in mid-late November. Its somewhat surprising the diversity that can be found here in the late autumn. We had about 10 species for the trip. Dunlin were the most numerous!

Dunlin - Netitishi Point

Alan making sure that no Curlew Sandpipers were mixed in...

Alan at Netitishi Point

The highlight of the day turned out to be species # 337 for my year list, one that I had listed as a code-4. 

While sitting in the shelter watching the ducks, I noticed a huge duck barrelling by very close to shore (it was close to high tide as well). It was obviously an eider, but it was waay larger than any King Eider, the "regular" species here! It had a more laboured flight, like a goose or cormorant and the sloped forehead was easy to see. Unlike all the King Eiders we would see later in the trip, this bird was by itself, traveling the wrong way (heading west), and very close to shore. It eventually landed offshore of the creek mouth to the west and we watched it for a few minutes in our scopes. Eventually it took off and disappeared farther west. What a great bird to kick off the trip!

Despite breeding along the shores of James Bay, this subspecies of Common Eider (sedentaria) is aptly named - it rarely wanders from its rocky breeding grounds to its wintering grounds in Hudson Bay. This was one of very few records for the southern James Bay region. Year bird #337 and a new one for my Ontario list and self-found Ontario list. Sweet!

Other highlights for the day included a very late Winter Wren around camp (record late actually), better looks at the Three-toed Woodpecker (see photo above), a juv Peregrine Falcon, some late American Tree Sparrows, and the first Northern Shrike of the trip. A very good day indeed!

So to recap, after two days we had seen most of the regular species as well as a few record late birds. I had already added 3 year birds in the Purple Sandpiper, Gyrfalcon, and Common Eider. 

Stay turned for the next few days' recaps!


Unknown said...

Congrats on the successful trip! Looking forward to reading more!

Ken Burrell said...

Josh, we had 2 Surf Scoter's last year on November 9th....

Anonymous said...

Cool, I'll let Alan know