After two awesome weeks on the coast, Jeremy, Kory, Alan and I are back in civilization. We were picked up by the chopper at noon on Thursday, and within 20 minutes we were back in Moosonee. It was one of the rare instances where we had no helicopter delays all trip!
We were given all kinds of weather throughout the trip, though with the exception of one day, we experienced no winds with a north component. Two nights went below freezing and we had snowsqualls on the last day. We also had record high temperatures for a few days, making baths in the creek possible.
But, on to the birds! Overall we experienced moderate numbers of passerines around the camp and large numbers of sparrows in particular. We did not find a ton of rare passerines like I had dreamed of, but there were a few things here and there. Seawatching was very slow due to the persistant poor conditions, but during the brief moments of good conditions we had a lot of birds on the move.
-2 different adult Northern Gannets. Alan spotted the first on Sept 27 and I got the second on Sept 28; both gave great looks to all four of us as they cruised on by to the east! These are the 3rd and 4th Northern Gannets for northern Ontario, with the other records also from Netitishi Point.
-2 or 3 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. These were our best passerines of the trip, as they normally range not much further north than Toronto. Kory spotted the first on Sept 30 as he, Jeremy and I were walking back from the creek. Then on October 2 I came across two different gnatcatchers in different areas, though one of them may have been the one from Sept 30.
-2 Ross's Geese on September 26
-other good seawatching-birds! Sunday, Sept 28 had moderately strong north winds and we spent most of the day at the coast. Highlights included one of the gannets plus a Black-legged Kittiwake and Pomarine Jaeger (both review species in the north), and of course lots of the usual ducks, 3 Bonaparte's Gulls, a late Osprey, and the first Brants. Unfortunately seawatching highlights were few and far between over the rest of the trip, though we did see a Short-eared Owl, big flocks of migrating Hudsonian Godwits, a ton of other shorebirds, and several Parasitic Jaegers.
-we watched two Bald Eagles and a Common Raven pecking at an injured bird way out on the flats on our second last morning. The injured bird ended up being a Northern Hawk Owl, a species usually found deep in spruce bogs, not way out on the flats. We ended up retrieving the specimen as the tide came in. While it is always unfortunate seeing a bird like an owl getting killed by other birds, it was a really cool opportunity to study the owl up close!
-lots of boreal birds. Black-backed and American Three-toed Woodpeckers, both crossbills, Pine Grosbeaks, Common Redpolls, Spruce and Ruffed Grouse, Gray Jays, etc. Boreal Chickadees were the dominant bird species in the woods most days.
-we had some late-ish birds as well. Gray-cheeked Thrush on Sept 26, Red-eyed Vireo on Oct 4, Caspian Tern on Oct 8, Clay-colored Sparrow on Oct 2, etc.
-lots of Gray Wolves (heard), a Beluga, some Ringed Seals, etc
It was a great trip, even though we didn't find a ton of rare passerines and seawatching was pretty poor for the most part. I'll be posting day- by-day recaps over the next few weeks!