Saturday, September 29, 2012

James Bay - short summary and photos

Earlier this month, I was given the opportunity to help w/ a Red Knot study on the James Bay Coast: 2 weeks in a remote camp counting shorebirds. So rewarding and a study I would love to take part in again. Many thanks to Mark Peck of the ROM for the opportunity and Christian Friis of Canadian Wildlife Service for arranging my safe arrival and departure to the project. Also many thanks to the Moose Cree First Nation for renting our their camps for the study and their support of the project.

Major highlights:

- Having a Gray Wolf walking unbelievably close to Mark P. and I at the end of our 20k walk from Little Piskwamish Camp to the Longridge Camp. I will never forget that moment.

- A family of Beluga Whales with two adults and one juvenile at Beluga Bay. I spent many days scanning for Belugas so it was such a reward to get relatively close looks of them just off the coast.

- A huge flock of White-rumped Sandpipers flying and separating around me so that I could hear their wingbeats as I was surrounded.

- Successfully reading the tags of Red Knots and seeing 250+ birds in a single day.

- The sense of accomplishment of finishing the 20km walk from Little Piskwamish to Longride with Mark P. even though I had an injured knee and terrible heal sores.

- Seeing my first Sharp-tailed Grouse from the Polar Bear Express as it perched on the hydro wires next to the tracks.

- A spectacular show of Northern Lights. Huge sheets of green waving and shifting across the sky looking like a portal into another universe. I literally gasped.

I wanted to share a few of my pictures on my blog from the trip as well.

 Our helicopter into camp. My first helicopter ride.

 The gorgeous James Bay Coast at low tide. You could get kilometers away from shore and still be in shallow water. The feeling of total isolation is amazing.

 Our study bird, the Red Knot. We were getting counts on adults versus juveniles and also tracking banded birds.
 The Gray Wolf. A truly beautiful moment.

 Another example of the coast. 

 Hudsonian Godwit juvenile - one of 3 new year birds for my 300 year. I came back from James Bay sitting at 299. 

The Team:

 Left to right: Mark Peck, Alex Howard, Aus Taverner, myself, Mark Field, and Greg Stuart.

 When wildlife entered the camp, the cameras came out.

One of my favourite mornings. So quiet and calm and those colours spilling over the horizon.

 View of the coast from the chopper ride back to Moosonee. We flew over flocks of Sandhill Cranes, Canada Geese, and Snow Geese.

Sunset while riding the Polar Bear Express.


Alvan Buckley said...

You should show some pics of the northern lights!

Jeremy Hatt said...

I wish I had thought of bringing my phone w/ me but I was so enthralled w/ the lights it didn't even come to mind. Have you seen the lights, Alvan? Unbelievable.

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I hate snakes but hat place inspire me to be visit there for trekking .