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
October 26, 2012
Weather: between 10 and 3 Celcius, rain in the morning but clearing by the afternoon, wind SW 40-50 km/h switching W 5 km/h late in the day.
ebird checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S11955435
Another day with winds with a southerly component! While not ideal for waterbirds including most of our target species, we did get some southern vagrants today. While I was down the beach looking for interesting things (with not much luck), Alan had 2 flyby Mourning Doves! Mourning Doves used to be very rare in southern James Bay, though now they are uncommon during the warm months. At any rate these were most certainly brought in with the warm south winds. Given the date and location, it seems just as likely that they could have been a rare dove species (White-winged or Eurasian Collared, maybe even Common Ground). And that would have been the highlight of the day, if it wasn't for a little duck.
At 9:40, Alan picked out a female Harlequin Duck in flight! We watched it until it disappeared to the east. Harlequins are rare (but probably regular) in southern James Bay. There are only 21 accepted records for Northern Ontario, and only 1 previous for Cochrane district, though I am sure the lack of coverage this time of year at James Bay has something to do with that.
We did have some other interesting birds throughout the day. Our only Snow Goose of the trip, a baby blue-morph, flew by close to shore heading west. Probably looking for his mama! (geese usually migrate in family groups). We had our first flock of Canada Geese as well, 13 of them. 2 of the geese looked significantly smaller, but the distance was so great that the birds were seemingly vanishing over the horizon and it was impossible to tell if the small geese were Cackling Geese or not. Alan still needs Cackling Geese for his southern James Bay list.
I photographed a Lapland Longspur near camp. While not a rare bird, and while this is a pretty bad photo of one, I was happy to get it since I hadn't photographed one yet this year. I don't have a requirement that I need to photograph the bird for it to count for my big year but just as an added challenge I am attempting to photograph 300 species this year. I added 11 more this trip, bringing me up to 293.
With the winds finally switching to the west by the evening, we were hoping that they would continue switching and we would have a nice strong northwest wind the following day.
October 27, 2012
Weather: 1 to 10 Celcius, clear with some clouds at dusk, wind SW to W 5-10 km/h.
ebird checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S11955475
Will the warm weather and southwest winds ever end??? At this point of the trip I could really empathize with the group last year who had similar conditions for most of their trip, preventing them from seeing big numbers of the rare northern birds. We did already have 2 code-4 rarities this trip, so I kept telling myself that even if we did not see anything else this trip, it would still be a success.
Feeling bored in the afternoon, Alan and I walked west to the lagoon that all the shorebirds seemed to fly to throughout the day. We were surprised to find a juvenile Baird's Sandpiper mixed in with the group! Since most Baird's appear to clear out of James Bay by September (there are no previous Oct records) this was a pretty cool record.
Since the lighting was nice I was glad to get some photos of some of the Sanderlings. For some reason I don't see very many Sanderlings in southern Ontario, especially in autumn. Up here we would see hundreds most days!
True to their name, the Sanderlings never left the sandy areas. The Dunlins and White-rumped Sandpipers would sometimes work the shallow tidepools and mucky areas, but not the Sanderlings.
The above Sanderlings are juveniles that are molting into 1st winter plumage. Some of the black-and white juvenile feathers (coverts, tertials, etc) are still retained, while the new gray winter feathers are coming in on the scapulars and mantle. We never saw any adult Sanderlings - this is expected since adults migrate much sooner. However we did see some adult Dunlins up to and including the last day of the trip.
We were now one week into the trip. Hopefully the winds switch for the rest of the trip!