Tuesday 14 October 2014

Netitishi Day 1

Day 1: September 26, 2014
Day 2: September 27, 2014
Day 3: September 28, 2014
Day 4: September 29, 2014
Day 5: September 30, 2014
Day 6: October 1, 2014
Day 7: October 2, 2014
Day 8: October 3, 2014
Day 9: October 4, 2014
Day 10: October 5, 2014
Day 11: October 6, 2014
Day 12: October 7, 2014
Days 13 and 14: October 8 and 9, 2014

September 26, 2014
Weather: 25 degrees C, wind SW to WNW 10-25 km/h, clear skies
47 species
Ebird checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20186889

Alan and I woke up in Moosonee this morning, Friday September 26. The plan was to bird around town until Kory and Jeremy arrived on the 2:00 PM train, but a quick decision made with the helicopter company meant that the helicopter would be flying out of Cochrane with Kory and Jeremy, stopping down to pick up Alan and I, continuing to Netitishi Point with all four of us.

Everything from that point forward went smoothly, and the helicopter touched down in Moosonee just as Alan and I arrived in a taxi, one of only a few in town due to the condition of the roads. Vehicles don't seem to last long in Moosonee.

We loaded all our gear in the chopper with Kory, Jeremy and I in the back, while Alan sat up front with the pilot. It looked like the helicopter would be too heavy to take us all in one trip, but eventually we rose slowly off the ground and were soon on our way to Netitishi.

Kory (left) and Jeremy (right) in a fully loaded helicopter

The skies were clear, allowing for great views of the Moose River mouth.

Moose River near mouth

The ride was over quickly and we were on the coast of James Bay before 1:00 PM giving us lots of time to find some birds on our first half day. Right away we added some of the first trip birds - Horned Lark, Lapland Longspur, Canada Goose, Boreal Chickadee. The four of us brought all of our gear to the cabins, a distance of 300-400 m one way. It certainly was a lot easier with four people as opposed to two, which was the case on my previous two Netitishi trips.

Immediately the damage from the severe weather event last fall (documented by Brandon Holden, who was birding/trying not to die during the worst of it) was evident, as many of the large spruces had fallen in large swaths throughout the forest. The cabin that I had stayed in last year (and Brandon was occupying during the storm) was newly repaired. However, a friendly group of wasps had taken over the doorway. Luckily one of the other cabins was suitable for Jeremy, Kory and I to stay in. We used the largest cabin closest to the wetland for all of our cooking, with Alan staying there as well.

By mid afternoon we began exploring the area and doing some birding. The wind was out of the southwest but as the day wore on it switched over to WNW at 25 km/h - enough to facilitate some waterfowl movement. We had 300 Northern Pintail and scattered other ducks, our first seven shorebird species including a single Ruddy Turnstone, and several Peregrine Falcons making passes at the Horned Larks and shorebirds. The day's highlight however was two Ross's Geese that Alan spotted flying west to east. At the time I was at the cabins but came running out in time to see them continuing on down the coastline. Kory and Jeremy just made it in time, too!

After we concluded eating dinner and going over our notes that evening, I went out to do some listening for nocturnal migrants and was soon joined by Jeremy and Kory. In total I counted 5 Swainson's Thrushes, 2 Hermit Thrushes and a Gray-cheeked Thrush, and Jeremy also heard a Gray-cheeked later on. Both the Ross's Geese and the Gray-cheeked Thrush were new birds for my Moosonee area checklist, an area that includes the Ontario side of southern James Bay. The Ross's were #250 for Alan's Moosonee list so he was pretty happy to finally see some.

We finished the day with 45 species and high hopes for what lied ahead over the next 12 days. The forecast was calling for moderate north winds on Sunday, our third day on the coast.

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