Friday 6 September 2019

James Bay 2019: Part One

Back in late July, I embarked for my second tour of duty up on the coast of James Bay with the James Bay Shorebird Project (website). I was up there for a month, spending the first two weeks at the Little Piskwamish Point field camp, before heading up to Longridge Point for the remaining two weeks. Once again, it was an outstanding experience, there truly is no place like James Bay!

Anyways, I'll try to convey my stories...enjoy!

James Bay 2019:
Part One
Part Two

July 28, 2019

I began the trek in Toronto, where I met up with Tyler Hoar, who was to be at Piskwamish with me for the first couple weeks. We picked up Kevin Shackleton on our way north, who was also going to be with us for the two weeks at Piskwamish.

Tyler was eager to show the two of us a recent burn in Gogama on the way up, so that's what we did (we also when on the way back south). It took less than 90 seconds for us to find our first Black-backed Woodpecker, and we soon found a few more. Woodpeckers really love these burns, as the dead trees are a haven for beetles and their larvae.

The burn (photo taken August 28)

Other than birds, there is a pretty little stream that runs through the burn. There were a few dragonflies, and perhaps I got a bit distracted...

Canada Darner

Eastern Least Clubtail

Band-winged Meadowhawk

A couple interesting beetles...

Yellow Velvet Beetle

Bee-mimic Beetle

Acmaeops pratensis

We got to Cochrane later that afternoon, where we met up with two other members of our party. Bruce Beehler (his blog here), an ornithologist who is writing a book on godwits, and Doug McRae, a great guy who just so happens to be the crew lead for Longridge Point. After a great dinner, we went to bed, as we were to board the train the next day, heading to Moosonee.

July 29-30, 2019

The train departed at 9am sharp, and we began the five-hour journey to the end of the line, Moosonee. It was fairly uneventful, but we did see a Canada Jay (still not used to the name change!), a Greater Yellowlegs, and a Red-tailed Hawk. Doug entertained us with his plethora of knowledge on the region, and we dreamed of the birds we could find.

It was raining pretty steadily by the time we pulled into Moosonee, putting a stop to any plans to fly out that day. So, with the help of Michelle with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry (OMNRF), we loaded up our gear and brought it to the staff house, where we'd be staying the night. After confirming we wouldn't be flying out that day, we went to the sewage lagoons, in hopes of seeing birds. Immediately, I saw my first of year Lesser Yellowlegs. I was hoping to make it until Moosonee before I saw my first, just for fun! However, the yellowlegs were not the most exciting bird. That title belonged to a drake Canvasback, first spotted by Tyler! Canvasbacks are quite rare in James Bay, this being something like only the 5th or 6th record for the region. Pretty cool!

We ended up staying in Moosonee an extra day the next day, as the weather prevented the chopper from flying down to Moosonee from Akimiski Island. So, the day was spent sitting around (out of the rain), talking, and birding (we went back to the lagoons, as well as Tyler and I took a walk around Moosonee). This garter snake was a real highlight. As with many of the herps in that region, they much more strikingly patterned than the ones down here!

We enjoyed our last supper in civilization that night, for the forecast for the next day was perfect. We would be flying out the next day.

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to reading more about your James Bay adventure...👍