Tuesday 27 November 2012

Netitishi days 13 and 14

Woohoo!!! The last of the Netitishi Posts!

November 2, 2012
Weather: 1 to 3 degrees Celsius, heavy overcast with regular mist and light rain, winds NW 50 to 80+ km/h
ebird checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S11955718
29 species

This morning we awoke to another gray and dismal day. The clouds did not look like they would be breaking at all, and the whole point was enshrouded in a heavy mist with list rain falling. We knew right from the start that the helicopter wouldn't be coming, so we didn't even bother packing up our gear and bringing it to the coast.

one of the cabins at Netitishi

Even though the winds were strong and out of the northwest, the birding wasn't very good. Some waterbirds were flying but fewer than previous days, probably due to the constant precipitation. Additionally, I don't think that the birds like migrating when the wind is whipping by at 80 km/h! Despite that, we spent most of the day in the shelter by the coast, watching the sea just in case there was a lost shearwater somewhere out there.

Bird highlights for the day were extremely limited and included both Iceland and Glaucous Gull, some late Northern Pintails and American Wigeons, and 13 Black-bellied Plover. A far cry from the Great Cormorant and Western Kingbird seen the previous day! (I did search extensively down the coast for the kingbird, to no avail). The highlight for me was probably the juvenile Peregrine Falcon we watched cruise down the shore. It did not notice us sitting in the shelter and ended up landing on a branch that was no more than 6 or 7 feet from us! As I slowly moved my binoculars up to my face to have a better look, it noticed us, freaked out, and made a beeline down the coast.

The big story of the day was the tide. As the day wore on, the water rose higher and higher, eventually coming dangerously close to the shelter. I abandoned ship but Alan stayed in the shelter long enough to see the wave that took it out. Here is what it looked like after! (Please excuse the terrible quality of the photos...its not easy taking pictures in 80 km/h winds with waterdroplets on my lens and a camera that is fogging up)

In the above photo (taken from the line of spruces), the most distance piece of land is where the shelter stood. In a normal high tide, the water would come to perhaps 20 meters from here, and at low tide it would be several hundred meters out. As you can see, the water demolished the shelter and ended up flooding, almost to where I am standing!

R.I.P., wind shelter

The above photo is a close up of what used to be the shelter. It served us well and will be missed. :(
Poor Brandon, who spent so many days slaving away to make the shelter as structurally secure as possible!

All up and down the coast, the tide demolished everything in its path. There were peninsulas, formerly covered in debris with even some trees growing, that were scraped clean. Thousands of logs and massive trees were pushed up. Luckily for us, Netitishi Point is raised up compared to most of the land, so we never feared for our safety. If we were camping out on a flatter part of the coast, we would have been in serious trouble.

logs and debris pushed up against the coast

November 3, 2012
Weather: not noted. I recall it was still windy, though with less precipitation and a higher cloud ceiling
ebird checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S11955719
Total species: not noted

I did not make extensive notes for this day. Basically, it was another day with gale force winds out of the north. Alan was watching for birds from the line of spruces, while I had gone around the point to the east in a nice sheltered location to watch. We only got in a few hours of seawatching before we heard the distinctive sounds of the chopper arriving! The following 30 minutes were filled with frantic packing and hauling all of our gear to the coast. Despite the short amount of birding we got done today, we had some interesting bird sightings.

I had a single King Eider fly past (by itself), as well as an interesting bird which may have been a large alcid sp., but I can't say for sure. I only had a brief look at it before it disappeared behind a wave, never to be seen again. For all I know it could have been a Long-tailed Duck, but it looked really damn good!

Alan had what was perhaps the bird of the trip, but one that "got away". He noticed a shearwater sp. waaaay out along the horizon. Unfortunately due to the distance, he was unable to pin it down to an ID. I unfortunately missed seeing it from where I was watching from. Super frustrating!!!

Alan also saw a Gyrfalcon from the helicopter as it took off, a bird that I also missed. Finally, as we were flying low over the mouth of the Moose River, we both happened to notice some birds near the water. Several were obviously Herring Gulls, but two of them looked REALLY good to be Northern Fulmars. I didn't say anything since I thought that I was seeing things, but when we landed Alan mentioned the birds, saying he thought they might have been Northern Fulmars. I guess we'll never know!

1 comment:

Alan Wormington said...

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that those two birds at the Moose River mouth were indeed Northern Fulmars. No reason why the couldn't be. Not really that many choices in early November. Oh well. At least we saw a definite one up close earlier in the trip, otherwise you would be fretting over those two birds for months on end!