Saturday 3 November 2012

Back from Netitishi: a new Ontario big year record!

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

We were supposed to be back from Netitishi on Thursday November 1, but the constant gale-force northwest winds combined with ice pellets and fog/mist delayed us a couple of days! Finally the chopper arrived this morning and I am now in a hotel in Moosonee.

The trip was absolutely incredible!! I almost don't know where to begin, so without further ado here are some brief details on the 8(!!!!!) year birds I saw on the trip. More details and photos to follow!

Purple Sandpiper
October 21
I spotted a single PUSA with a group of Sanderlings close along the shore less than an hour after we arrived! This was my last code-2 bird to get, and was year bird 335. The only PUSA we got all trip!

October 21
Alan noticed this bird waaaaay down the beach not long after I had the PUSA. Shitty looks, but we ended up getting 2 more gyrs throughout the trip, including a white morph juvenile which I got some record photos of. A lifer! Year bird 336.

Common Eider
October 22
I noticed the eider heading the wrong way (east to west) very close to shore on our first full day of seawatching. Female-type. Year bird 337! It was also a new "southern James Bay" bird for Alan. We saw a bunch of King Eiders later in the trip (usually in small groups or with scoters); this was the only Common we had.

Northern Gannet
October 23
Very exciting bird! I first saw the bird heading east way out in the Alan on the bird and we watched it until it was out of sight. An adult bird too!! This tied the record, being yearbird #338. It was my 3rd new bird I added to my Ontario list this trip, along with Gyrfalcon and Common Eider. This is only the second record for Northern Ontario.

Northern Fulmar
October 29
The record breaking bird! I was scanning to the west and saw a gull like bird shearing over the waves like a jaeger (or like a fulmar). After a second I realized it actually was a fulmar! It was right along shore, and I actually managed a very poor record photo. This was also a new Ontario bird for me. Undoubtably the "Greenland Express", or the strong winds blowing straight into James Bay from the north Atlantic due to Hurricane Sandy, brought this bird to us. It was the only fulmar we got, even though the strong north/northwest winds continued for the next 3 days.

Black-legged Kittiwake
October 30
I found a juvenile low over the flats near where we were sitting in the shelter. 340! When Alan got on it, he noticed a second kittiwake flying with it, and they ended up following the shoreline to the west. This should have been the last year-bird for the trip, but the helicopter delay brought us a couple bonus birds!

Great Cormorant
November 1
MEGA! Maybe not Wilson's Storm-Petrel or Ross's Gull mega, but this is the first record for Northern Ontario. Actually, all previous 11 accepted records for Ontario pertain to birds on Lake Ontario. Year bird #341, and my 5th new Ontario bird on the trip. Alan originally spotted this large cormorant straight out from us and as we watched it, it didn't take long to realize this was no Double-crested! Very good views and I could have got a photo if my camera wasn't packed away.

Western Kingbird
November 1
Only the second record for the southern James Bay region, and I think this is the latest fall record for northern Ontario. It whipped by the shelter around 4:30 PM and we had very brief looks at the "yellow-breasted kingbird" until it vanished down the coastline. I refound it 30 minutes later and we spent the rest of the day getting incredibly close photos as it looked for insects in a sheltered spot along the tidal wrack. A code 3 bird, one that I thought I would miss for the year! Yearbird 342.

Obviously I missed some incredible birds while I was gone. Hurricane Sandy brought an incredible amount of rarities, including 2 kinds of storm-petrel, Ross's Gull, etc. In my very brief glances at ONTbirds I also saw reports of Glossy Ibis, Pacific Loon, Razorbill, lots of Cave Swallows, etc. So while I missed quite a few potential yearbirds, I picked up 8 and set the record. I now have my sights set on 350!

More details, photos, etc to follow. 


Alvan Buckley said...

Congrats Josh!

Sounds like an amazing trip!

sissypants said...

Congratulations! I'm very impressed by your accomplishment -- I've been following your blog with great interest all along. Now keep on!

Erin said...

I have also been following (and living through you a little bit). Congrats!! So what's your goal for next year?

Nick from Ottawa said...

Congratulations!! What an amazing haul! Best wishes as you build on that total with all that's still showing up down here in the south. Ottawa's first Cave Swallow today... Hope the Ross's Gull etc. come to hand for you.

-- Nick

Brandon Holden said...

Congrats man!!! Glad to see you had an epic trip... We were getting worried down here...


Michael said...

Well done Josh. What a great year it's been...with eight+ weeks to go. Congratulations! M & M.

Tyler said...

Congrats Josh,

Looking forward to seeing your pictures

So are you saying that Maris Apse and my Western Kingbird we had during the second atlas at our camp at northpoint for several days was the first Western Kingbird for Southern James Bay?

dwaynejava said...

Josh, Congrats! Looking forward to seeing how far you can get by the end of the year!-DM

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I've been following your blog for a while now and the suspense of not knowing how you were doing on your trip was driving me crazy! (Especially since we had the Western Grebe and Tufted Duck in Ottawa while you were way). Netitishi sounds like a great place. Can't wait to see the photos!


Gavin Platt said...

Congrats Josh! Hopefully the Ibis will stick around and you can find a Cave Swallow soon.

Unknown said...

Congratulations Josh on setting a new Ontario Big Year record. Your new goal of 350 species in 2012 seems attainable. Good luck. Jean and Ron

Jeremy Hatt said...

I'm unbelievably happy to read this! Was so nervous when the hurricane birds started showing up if things didn't go well for you up north, but obviously that wasn't the case at all.

Can't think of a more deserving person to set the new record with all the work you've put in this year and always being congenial throughout. Great job!

Blake A. Mann said...

Heartiest congratulations Josh. No doubt several more year birds will be added! Luck is on your side.

Backcountry Balkwills said...

Congratulations on setting the new Big Year record for Ontario! :D Looking forward in seeing some of the photos from Netitishi.

Daniel Riley said...

Unreal congrats man, you earned it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the support everyone! Much appreciated :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Gavin. Haven't heard any reports of the ibis for 2 days now...I'm getting a bit worried. Hopefully some Cavies will stick around.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tyler,

All I know is that Alan said that this was the second record, apparently the first being a bird at Ship Sands Island. Guess he doesn't know about your record.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Erin! I guess the first thing would be looking to find work to pay off some debts :P After that its just back to "regular" birding, and probably a fair bit of travel outside of Ontario if I can make it work!


Mark Cranford said...

Congratulations. Wow. I thought 338 was unattainable. Scanning your list there is room for more. Glossy Ibis, Pacific Loon ... Go for it.

Gavin Platt said...

Think I jinxed you. The Ibis seems to have disappeared almost immediately after I wrote that message.

Alan Wormington said...

I vaguely remember the report from North(bluff) Point, but it appears that no details on that bird were ever published anywhere (such as dates). The first record was actually at East Point (not Ship Sands Island) on August 27-30, 1983.