Friday 30 August 2013

Hannah Bay shorebird surveys

I was stationed at Hannah Bay (specifically at East Point) with Ross Wood, Alvan Buckley and Barb Charlton for the first two weeks of August.  The shorebirds were great.  The weather and bugs weren't....anyways, here's the post I put onto Ontbirds, with a few photos added at the end.

This is the project's fifth report, for the period 31 July - 12 August 2013 from East Point on Hannah Bay, Ontario, on the south coast of James Bay. This camp is located in the heart of the East Point Important Bird Area.

The Hannah Bay crew consists of Ross Wood (volunteer), Mike Burrell (Bird Studies Canada), Barb Charlton (volunteer) and Alvan Buckley (volunteer). Final reports from Hannah Bay, Little Piskwamish Point and Longridge Point will be shared as soon as possible.

The Hannah Bay camp is 68 km east of Moosonee, Cochrane District. High counts during the period are given below.

Black-bellied Plover – 101 adults on August 10. No juveniles to date.

American Golden Plover – 2 adults on August 5 and 1 adult on August 8.

Semipalmated Plover  - 46 on August 2; the first juveniles arrived on August 7

Killdeer – 11 on August 9

Spotted Sandpiper – 4 on July 31. Only juveniles observed during the period.

Solitary Sandpiper – singles on 5 days.

Greater Yellowlegs – 554 on July 31. Juveniles were uncommon at the start of the period but had increased to about 30% by the end.

Lesser Yellowlegs – 395 on August 1. Juveniles represented about 25% of birds at the start of the period but increased to well over half by the end.

Whimbrel – 6 on August 6. This species was mostly just observed flying over the study area.

Hudsonian Godwit – 674 molting adults on August 11.  East Point appears to be an important stopover site for this species, as the 674 birds represents almost 1% of the global population of this species. Flagged birds were seen on 9 occasions and represented at least 3 individuals.  Based on flag colour, one of these flagged birds was banded in Canada and the other two were banded in Chile. On August 10 as the tide came in Ross Wood and Mike Burrell watched a flock of 27 individuals circle overhead gaining altitude for close to 30 minutes before eventually heading south, presumably leaving James Bay.

Marbled Godwit – 39 on August 3. Small numbers daily.

Ruddy Turnstone – 35 adults on August 2. The first juveniles arrived on August 6.

Red Knot – 42 birds in a flyover flock on August 9.  This species was very uncommon at East Point, with birds on the ground only on 3 days, including 2 juveniles on August 11.

Sanderling – 6 birds on August 4. Uncommon at East Point with low counts on 7 days only. No juveniles observed.

Semipalmated Sandpiper – 7311 on August 6. Juveniles represented a very small portion of birds (virtually none) when we arrived but had increased to over 50% by the end of the period. On August 10 as the tide came in Ross Wood and Mike Burrell watched several flocks totalling over 500 birds flying southeast at high altitude, presumably having fattened up enough to leave James Bay. On August 12 Ross Wood and Alvan Buckley found an adult Semipalmated Sandpiper with an engraved flag - based on the colour of the flag this bird was originally banded in Peru.

Least Sandpiper – 425 on July 31. Mostly juveniles at the beginning of the period, by the end there were only a handful of adults left.

White-rumped Sandpiper – 2760 on August 6. No juveniles yet.

Pectoral Sandpiper – 259 on August 10.  First juvenile on August 11. On August 10 as the tide came in Ross Wood and Mike Burrell watched a flock of 40 individuals circle overhead gaining altitude before heading south, presumably leaving James Bay.

Dunlin – 6 adults on August 3.  This species was very uncommon at East Point – only adults were observed and only on 6 days.

Stilt Sandpiper – 6 adults on August 1 and 3 adults on August 3. Always observed roosting at creek mouth at high tide with Short-billed Dowitchers and Hudsonian Godwits.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper – 4 on August 2 and 1 on August 3.

Short-billed Dowitcher (hendersoni) – 6 adults on August 3. Low numbers of adults on 7 days, always observed roosting at a creek mouth at high tide with Hudsonian Godwits.

Wilson’s Snipe – 14 on August 11.

Wilson’s Phalarope – 2 juveniles on August 5. Singles seen on August 3 (adult), 7 (juvenile) and 9 (unknown).

Red-necked Phalarope – 5 juveniles on August 12. Also seen on August 1 (1 adult), 2 (1 adult, 2 juveniles), 3 (1 adult), 8 (1 adult), 10 (2 adults) and 11 (1 juvenile).

OTHER BIRDS: Blue-winged Teal – female with 9 young near camp; Black Scoter – 300 on August 7; American White Pelican – 3 birds on August 12; Yellow Rail – single bird flushed on August 7; Sora – single bird heard calling on August 5; Little Gull – 1 adult on August 2; Black Tern – 1 molting adult on August 3; Arctic Tern – adults on 4 days; Bank Swallow – flock of 15 on August 7; Gray Catbird – single around camp irregularly through period; LeConte’s Sparrow – 1-3 still singing around camp; Nelson’s Sparrow – up to 29 singing males; Common Redpoll – flocks flying over daily

MAMMALS: Single Grey Wolf seen on August 4 and 6. Black Bears observed almost daily. 1 Snowshoe Hare on July 31. Deer Mouse observed almost daily in one of the cabins (I won’t reveal whose, but you can guess!). Woodland Caribou tracks on August 1. Moose tracks most days. Striped Skunk around camp on a few days; possibly depredated on the night of August 9. Red Squirrel! around camp on several days.

HERPTILES: Wood Frog, American Toad, Northern Leopard Frog, Spring Peeper, Eastern Gartersnake.

Butterflies: Least Skipper, Common Branded Skipper, Roadside Skipper (record late for Ontario), Bronze Copper, Bog Copper, Spring Azure, Atlantis Fritillary, Silver-bordered Fritillary, Arctic Fritillary, Northern Crescent, White Admiral, Viceroy, Common Ringlet

ODONATES: Northern Spreadwing, Emerald Spreadwing, Marsh Bluet, Eastern Forktail, Variable "Lineate" Darner, Lake Darner, Shadow Darner, Zigzag Darner, Four-spotted Skimmer, Crimson-ringed Whiteface, Black Meadowhawk, Cherry-faced Meadowhawk.

Check out Alvan’s blog for photos and a map of the Hannah Bay camp location. Mike Burrell also has some photos on his blog and Jean Iron has photos from the previous crew at this location

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: The Western James Bay Shorebird Survey is a cooperative effort spearheaded by the Canadian Wildlife Service, Royal Ontario Museum , Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR), Bird Studies Canada and Moose Cree First Nation. Additional support for the 2013 expedition was provided by TD Friends of the Environment Foundation. The OMNR also provides helicopter transport to and from field camps and accommodations in the staff house while crews are in Moosonee. Thanks to Ken Abraham, Rod Brook, Sarah Hagey and Kim Bennett of OMNR for logistical support. Lastly, without the many hours of dedicated volunteer support, this project would not be possible.

Some photos:
Molting adult Bonaparte's Gull
Adult White-rumped Sandpiper
Juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper
Adult Hudsonian Godwit

One of only a couple Red Knots seen

Adult Red-necked Phalarope

Flagged Hudsonian Godwit.  The red flag indicates it was banded in Chile.

Least Skipper
Silver-bordered Fritillary
Northern Spreadwing
Marsh Bluet

Fresh juvenile Bonaparte's Gull

Fresh juvenile Herring Gull

Black Bear munching on Sow Thistle
 I tried a panorama of the creek mouth that fed into "our" bay - the photo needs to be opened on your computer to properly view it, so you can download it by clicking here.  A preview is below, but because of the photo's dimensions it will not display properly: