Saturday, 6 October 2012

Some rarity photos from the Moosonee trip

To kick things off, here are the photos of the Lesser Black-backed Gulls we found at the North Bay landfill. This landfill is a FANTASTIC birding location, and I highly recommend that any birder who travels through North Bay make a stop. They are very tolerant of birders, there are a ton of gulls, and the scrubby areas around the edges can be great for passerines. We had 150 American Pipits, 20 Lapland Longspurs, 80 Chipping Sparrows, 100 Savannah and Song Sparrows, and 500 White-crowned Sparrows. Of course there were a few interesting things mixed in - Orange-crowned Warbler, Clay-colored Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, etc. I can`t wait to visit again when I go back north in a few weeks!!

2nd winter Lesser Black-backed Gull - North Bay landfill

I think that Lesser Black-backed Gulls are regular here, it is just that no one checks this spot very often. According to Martin Parker these were the first confirmed LBBGs for Nipissing District.

juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull - North Bay landfill

Once we arrived in Mooonee, the first thing we did was check out the sewage ponds south of town. A Canvasback had been found there a few days previously, and Alan was anxious to add this one to his southern James Bay list!

Canvasback (bottom right) - Moosonee lagoons

That was easy. This species has only been seen up here a couple of times before.

Canvasback - Moosonee lagoons

One day, we were walking around the north end of town when we noticed there was a bit of a hawk flight going on. We ended up finding a picnic table and watching the skies as Rough-legged Hawks and Peregrine Falcons streamed overhead. This raptor caught as by surprise as we didn`t really know what it was at first. It had the proportions of a red-tailed hawk but was more or less black and white with no brown tones, and with a lot of white on the tail. The bird came in quite close and we were able to study it well and grab some photos. My camera ended up deleting the photos, but fortunately I was able to recover them thanks to some software that Dwayne Murphy provided (thanks Dwayne!). This bird appeared to be a Harlan`s Hawk - a rare form of Red-tailed Hawk that breeds in Alaska and winters in the southern Great Plains.

"Harlan's" Red-tailed Hawk - Moosonee

Harlan`s Hawk has only been recorded a couple of times before in Ontario, and never in northern Ontario. There is only one previous record that has been accepted by the OBRC. This is the only shot that shows the upperside (barely). Excuse the poor shot!

"Harlan's" Red-tailed Hawk - Moosonee

That's all for now. The next post will have some shots of the Carolina Wren (first for the Hudson Bay lowlands) and the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher!


  1. So awesome that you got a Harlan's up there!

  2. Hi Josh, I don't think the last message sent. I am planning a trip in the first week of September for a week in Moosonee. I will be on my own, and on foot. Have you got any tips, sites, boat taxis etc, to access the area in regards to birding please, and is it worth the trip to go all this way? I am using ebird as a guide, and that week looks like a good time. Thanks for your help. I can be contacted on: