Friday 17 August 2012

Home from James Bay!

Introductory Post
July 28 to 30, 2012 - Moosonee, Little Piskwamish Point
July 31 to August 2, 2012 - Little Piskwamish Point
August 3 to 5, 2012 - Longridge Point
August 6 to 8, 2012 - Longridge Point
August 9 to 12, 2012 - Longridge Point
August 12 to 15, 2012 - Longridge Point

I just got in the door from my 2.5 week trip to Ontario ocean coast of James Bay. I am pretty tired now and won't elaborate too much, so I thought that I would just mention some of the highlights.

Most importantly for my big year, I added 5 new species, bringing my year list up to 326! The new species were:

Nelson's Sparrow: I heard my first Nelson's Sparrow within seconds of stepping out of the chopper on the James Bay coast on July 30. This ended up being one of the most common species of sparrow we ended up seeing, with the high being about 25 birds in a day. I managed a few good photo opportunities too! They could be heard nearly anytime I was near the wet sedge habitat, up until the last week or so when they all stopped singing.

Red Knot: We ended up seeing quite a few Red Knots, with my first coming on July 31. At Little Piskwamish, where I ended up spending 3 full days, we had a high of about 1,200 Red Knots (I'll have to check my notes to be specific). Unfortunately they were all but absent at Longridge Point where we spent the remainder of the trip.

Black Guillemot: Barb Charlton, Deborah Cramer and I were very surprised to come across a breeding plumaged Black Guillemot sitting on a rock about 8 km north of the Longridge Camp! I was scanning the water when Barb mentioned that she might have a guillemot on a rock. I kind of laughed ("haha, sure you do, Barb") until she said that she was serious! The bird was very distant and eventually flushed when the tide came in. This was a new Ontario bird for me and one I certainly didn't expect to get this on this trip! I had it listed as a code 3 since there was a chance I would see them if I went to southern James Bay later in the autumn.

Arctic Tern: This was one of the most satisfying birds of the trip. I spent all day every day out in the field, looking at dozens of terns, but they were all Commons. Finally, towards the end of the trip, I decided to stay back and cook dinner while the rest of the crew went to the river mouth to check the gull flock. Sure enough Barb and Andrew came on the radio, saying they were looking at an adult Arctic Tern! I ran the 1.5 km to the river mouth in about 5 minutes and had great looks at it flying above us and eventually landing on a rock. Photos to come! This was also a new Ontario bird for me and the only Arctic Tern we managed to get on the trip.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: I found a juvenile a few days ago with a big flock including Pectoral Sandpiper, Black-bellied Plover, American Golden-Plover, Least Sandpiper, and Baird's Sandpiper. I expected to get this one later on in the year but it was nice to get it out of the way.

There were many other highlights including some awesome birds, herps, odes, butterflies, and mammals, but that will have to wait! I'll post day by day recaps with lots of photos starting tomorrow.