2023 Moose River Atlassing Trip Log

On June 8, 2023, 6 keen volunteers arrived in Cochrane, Ontario where they would begin their 12-day atlassing adventure on the Moose River from Moose Crossing to the James Bay. The crew was known as “Have a Hoot” and consisted of Angela Brooks, Catherine Killen, Alex Stone, Sheila Craig, Barb O’Neill, and Amy Brunning. Over the course of their 75-km journey, the team documented 117 species, including at least 10 that were considered “rare” by eBird.   The team conducted 25 Point Counts in each of 3 priority squares (17UMS83, 17UMS94 and 17UNS17).  Due to difficulty accessing some previous point counts, the team created some new point counts conducted 100 – 1200 m inland from the river.  General atlassing was conducted while paddling on the river, at or near camp sites, as well as in and around the town of Moosonee.  

The route taken by the "Have a Hoot" crew
Teepee of paddles to provide gravity for the water filter (Photo credit: Catherine Killen)
Teepee of paddles to provide gravity for the water filter (Photo credit: Catherine Killen)
Dry Spruce Bog (Photo credit: Catherine Killen)

Day 1 (June 9): Cochrane to Moose River Crossing to “The Eagle Bar”

We stayed on the night of June 8 at the Thriftlodge budget motel in Cochrane, and on the morning of June 9 headed to the train station, where we loaded the canoes and gear into a freight car, paid for the freight, and then boarded the train to Moose River Crossing, a “whistle stop”.  We had arranged with the Thriftlodge to park the cars for the duration of our trip, a 10 minute walk from the train station.

Moose Crossing has a couple of small buildings, and there were 2 men there when we unloaded.  The drop off point is on the south/east side of the river.  There is a trail from the drop-off about 500m to the put in.  See map.

We encountered our first confirmed breeding bird evidence on the portage: a pair of Killdeer, one of which did its very best to get us away from its nest every time we came past with a load of gear.  

At the river, we had another interesting wildlife experience: a 5 foot long Lake Sturgeon, feeding in the shallows. This magnificent creature seemed to us to be the spirit of the Moose River welcoming us!

Packing the canoes for the first time at Moose Crossing (photo credit: Sheila Craig)
Train drop-off point and put-in location. Courtesy of Google Maps.
Our camp on the Eagle Bar (photo credit: Barb O’Neill)

Day 2 (June 10): Windbound on “The Eagle Bar”

Overnight, the temperature plummeted from hot and humid to 3° C as a strong cold front blew in. A north wind was blowing at least 30km/hr all day so we couldn’t conduct point counts.  It was very cold, no warmer than 7° C, and felt colder with the strong wind. Stuck for the day, we explored our small island (about 500m long, comprised of sand and gravel and covered with small willows and a few large snags), discovering nesting COTEs, and watched sandpipers (3 LESA and many SESA) and ducks (including one LTDU) migrating downstream.  When we got too cold, we huddled in our tents and sleeping bags to warm up.  

We made a foray off the island mid-afternoon to retrieve and redeploy the ARUs on the mainland. We observed that the wind was almost imperceptible once we were 200m from the river in the forest, so possibly we could have done point counts.  One party went to the north shore, another party to the south shore.  The south shore (where the point counts are) consisted of mixed forest for about 100m, then dry spruce bog.  The party who visited the north shore (where there were no point counts) reported different terrain: a meadow with a stream running through it.  The north shore team were hoping to find a Sandhill Crane nest, since we had heard them bugling. They did see two fly over, but didn’t find a nest.

The water rose about 15 cm through the day.  Before bed, we packed all the gear we could, and moved the canoes higher on the gravel bar in case we had to bug out (the downside of our gravel bar campsite).

Semipalmated Sandpipers on the beach (Photo credit: Sheila Craig)
Long-tailed Duck floating past the island (Photo credit: Sheila Craig)

Day 3 (June 11): Point Counts and Move Downriver to “Mourning Warbler Beach”

We awoke at 4:45 to a very cold morning (2° C), but fortunately the water had not risen any more in the night.  The wind was still blowing strongly from the north, but as we observed the previous day, once we were in the woods, we could hardly hear the wind.  Therefore, we did conduct the local Point Counts in 17UMS83.  This required a scramble up the bank of the river (due to very low water levels), then bushwhacking through 100-200m of mixed forest, then slogging through dry spruce bog.  Most of the actual Point Counts were in the dry spruce bog.  In the bog, it is easy to navigate between the sparse black spruce, but tough going for the thighs wading through sphagnum moss.  It is similar to walking through 30 cm of fresh snow.  The highlight for several of us was Connecticut Warblers, so rarely seen in the south and so ubiquitous in the spruce bog!

Having completed the Point Counts, we had brunch, packed and headed downstream.  We kept to the right (south/east) side of the river as much as possible, in accordance with the local knowledge. We had to walk / line the boats through shallow rapids several times.  We crossed the river to the north/west shore above Louise Island to make camp near one set of Point Counts.  Mourning Warblers sang us to sleep. It didn’t take much as we were all exhausted from a very long, tough, but rewarding day.

Arriving onshore. (Photo credit: Shiela Craig)
Connecticut Warbler (Photo credit: Sheila Craig)

Day 4 (June 12): Point Counts and travel to “Merganser Meadow”

It was our second day in a row of rising at 4:45 to a cold morning to conduct Point Counts (still in 17UMS83), and then eat brunch, pack and travel down river to the next location.  There were designated point counts on both sides of the river here, but it was impossible to get to the ones on the opposite south shore as they are in the middle of a set of rapids, so we focused on the ones accessible from near the campsite. Like yesterday, our 3 teams of 2 each conducted 4 point counts.

Again, we had to walk / line the canoes through gravel beds and rapids.  There was one fun CI-II rapid we were able to run.  We had a stiff headwind (~30 km/hr) for the last hour.  We were very glad to finally reach our planned destination at 5:00 pm, named Merganser Meadow for the Common Mergansers we saw there.  While the day started cold, it rose to about 22° C, which was very welcome since we spent much of it wading in the river. We were exhausted after our second very demanding day in a row, but all in good humour.

Barb recording bird sightings between point counts (Photo credit: Sheila Craig)
Canada Jay found on a point count (Photo credit: Sheila Craig)

Day 5 (June 13): Point Counts and travel to “Fox Sparrow Beach” on Wikikanishi Island

Today we graduated to a new priority square (17UMS84).  We got up even earlier this morning (4:30) to cover more territory.  We made the decision to conduct 25 Point Counts in the vicinity of our camp, rather than try to cover the 2 sets of point counts established by the previous atlas as we just didn’t have time to travel that distance. This meant that each team of 2 would need to do 8/9 Point Counts this morning.  It took each team about 5.5 hours to cover the territory needed for the 8 or 9 points.  Each team covered 7-9 km, of which the majority was in the dry spruce bog and very tough going.  

The paddle this afternoon was delightful as there was actually WATER in the river and we didn’t have to walk the canoes.  We covered about 20 km in 3 hours.  We camped on the North/West end of Wikikanishi island at a spot we named Fox Sparrow Beach due to the lovely serenades we received here.  En route we discovered the prints of a Canada Lynx!

Alex conducting a point count (Photo credit: Catherine Killen)
Barb recording bird sightings between point counts (Photo credit: Sheila Craig)
Canada Lynx track (Photo credit: Sheila Craig)

Day 6 (June 14): Downriver to the top of the Kwetabohigan Rapids

Having left our priority squares, we had no point counts today (WOO HOO!) so we slept in (until 5:30 – 7:00, depending on the individual), and enjoyed a leisurely tour of the island before breakfast.  Unlike on Point Counts, we were able to take the time to actually LOOK for the birds we heard.  It was nice to get views of the warblers and sparrows.  The big “find” was a Spotted Sandpiper’s nest. We also found plenty of bear and moose tracks.  Sadly, we never saw either a bear or a moose on our trip.

After brunch, we broke camp and were on the river before noon. Again we had to deal with walking the canoes through a number of shallow gravel bars.  We made camp just above the Kwetabohigan Rapids on the south/east shore, which allowed us to scout the rapids and be prepared to descend them early the next day.  This was the least comfortable campsite of our trip.  Here there was no beach or gravel bar.  Rather we scrambled up the bank and camped on large rocks, or on top of alders, or for 2 of us, hacked our way through the alders into the woods and carved out enough space for a tent there.  This is the night we learned the value of a good camping mattress!

Walking through the shallows. (Photo credit: Sheila Craig)
Spotted Sandpiper nest with eggs. (Photo credit: Sheila Craig)
The happy finders of the nest (Photo credit: Sheila Craig)

Day 7 (June 15): Running the Rapids and downriver to Little Gull Island

According to local knowledge, the Kwetabohigan Rapids are the one set of significant rapids on the Moose River between Moose Crossing and Moosonee, CII-III, and running about 2km long.  The advice is to run it at high tide and keep right.  Below the rapids, the tide influences the river.  At low tide, there can be large haystacks at the bottom of the rapids.  In our case, because of the extreme low water, this was not an issue.  The entire right (south/east) side of the rapids was completely out of water.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t much water anywhere in the rapids.  

Having scouted the day previously, we were ready to go early and started our descent about 10:00, 3 hours before high tide. We hugged the right shore from eddy to eddy.  We had to line/walk the boats through some of the drops, but were actually able to run enough to actually enjoy the experience.  It took us over an hour to get clear of the rapids.  We enjoyed a long break on the north/west shore on a beach at the mouth of the Kwetabohigan River, where the highlight was watching adult dragonflies emerge from their nymphs. Of course we named it “Dragonfly Beach”. 

We continued downriver for another few hours, again against a strong north wind.  This stretch of the Moose is near to and navigable from Moosonee and we saw cabins along the river.  Despite the wind, we made steady progress.  It was the most pleasant paddle of the whole week.

We camped on another sandbar, on this last night of our river trip.  From our campsite, we did see a couple of people in freighter canoes at the Moose Cree First Nation camp 1 km downriver from us – the first humans we had seen in a week! As we approached what would be our campsite, saw a flock of terns and gulls. Among the ubiquitous Common Terns and Bonaparte Gulls, were THREE Little Gulls!  Our camp was therefore christened “Little Gull Island”.

Dragonfly Beach (Photo credit: Sheila Craig)
Kwetabohigan Rapids at low water. (Photo credit: Sheila Craig)
Little Gull (Photo credit: Sheila Craig)

Day 8 (June 16): Final paddle to Moosonee

After a cold night, we awoke to sunshine, and for the first time in days, NO WIND!  We broke camp early this morning and were on the river by 8:40, our earliest start of the trip.  We had a long but lovely paddle in mostly deep water all the way to Moosonee. A highlight was seeing the 3rd Bank Swallow colony of the trip, a large one, with at least 200 nest cavities.

 En route to Moosonee, we passed by the west end of the island of Moose Factory.  There was quite a lot of boat traffic here, mainly water taxis.  Be aware and stay out of the main channel when possible.   

In Moosonee, we beached beside the water taxi dock (note that the dock is for water taxis ONLY!), and a pickup-truck taxi showed up almost immediately.  The locals can see you coming from quite a distance, and news travels fast.  

Be sure to negotiate a fare with the taxi driver.  The standard when we were there was to charge $10 / person.  Although only 2 people (and all our gear) rode in the taxi to the motel, the driver charged us $60 (having counted us).  On subsequent trips, we negotiated for $25.  

We used the pickup to carry our gear to the motel, and 3 of our team portaged the canoes the 600m from the river. We had booked to stay at the Super 8 Motel, the only accommodation in Moosonee.  The motel was suitable for our needs, although there was no secure location to store the canoes.  We stayed 2 / room.  It was very nice to have a shower and get cleaned up.  Note that there are no real restaurants in town. Take-out was available from KFC and Pizza Hut.  There is a good grocery store (Northern) which had some prepared food.  The motel includes a kitchen and lounge where residents can cook and eat.  

In the late afternoon, a few of our group took a taxi to the sewage lagoons accessed from Quarry Road where they enjoyed a large selection of waterfowl, including ducks we didn’t see anywhere else on the river, even rare Redheads.  We highly recommend this “side trip”. 

Alex on the Moose River approaching Moosonee (Photo credit: Catherine Killen)
Bank Swallow colony (Photo credit: Sheila Craig).

Day 9 (June 17): Atlassing along Quarry Road to “Waxwing Bluff”

The final day of official atlassing was conducting Point Counts in Priority Square 17UNS17 which required access by road.  The fact that this square could not be accessed from the river was discovered only 3 weeks before the trip by the participants.  This square is accessible from Quarry Road, which runs south-west from Moosonee.  Some of the previous Point Counts were very difficult to access as the road doesn’t extend that far.  Our 3 teams covered as many existing Point Counts as we could, and created new ones where necessary.  It is possible to arrange for a taxi to and from the point count area.  In our case, we prearranged for a driver to pick us up at the Motel at 4:30 a.m. drop our teams off at 3 locations along the road, and pick us up again at 11:15 a.m.  The terrain was similar to that which we had experienced to date: mixed forest, dry spruce bog and stream crossings.  We also encountered a maintained ATV trail, hydro cut, rail line and open marshes.

After a long, grueling morning in the bush, we returned to the motel for a shower and lunch.  We then packed up and taxied and portaged our gear back to the river.  From here, it was a short paddle to our home for the next 2 nights: Tidewater Provincial Park on Charles Island.  The park has very nice campsites with privies and picnic tables. It was luxury!  We named our particular campsite “Waxwing Bluff” after the resident Cedar Waxwings.

Portaging through Moosonee (Photo credit: Sheila Craig)
Our campsite at Tidewater Provincial Park (Photo credit: Sheila Craig)

Day 10 (June 18): Leisure and James Bay

Today was our day off!  We were officially DONE with atlassing (although we did submit several further “general atlassing” checklists)! In the morning, we walked around Charles Island, alone and in small groups, to see what birds we could find there.  Warblers were plentiful, including a rare Black-throated Green Warbler.  Another highlight was a Boreal Chickadee that visited our campsite both mornings. It was delightful to be able to spend the time to actually look for the birds we heard, now that we didn’t have to race to finish point counts, or paddle to our next camp site.

We had arranged with a local guide, Randy Kota, to take us down river to James Bay in a James Bay Freighter (no paddling = luxury!).  Our outing took place in the afternoon to take advantage of high tide.  This allowed Randy to take us through the (sometimes very) narrow channels of the estuary on the way downstream.  While we did not see a huge variety of birds, the outing was thoroughly enjoyable. 

James Bay (Photo credit: Sheila Craig)

Day 11 (June 19): Moose Factory and the Train South

The train departs Moosonee for Cochrane at 5:00 p.m.  We took advantage of our last day to see Moose Factory.  Randy Kota arranged for us to visit the Cree Cultural Interpretive Center.  Our guide there, Kim, showed us the centre and then took us to visit the Hudson Bay Staff House, a relic from the hey-day of the Hudson Bay Company’s dominion over the north.  The building, built in 1850, now houses an interesting museum and is also used by the community for meetings and events.  We all found our visit to Moose Factory well worth the time.  

Back at Tidewater Provincial Park, we packed up one last time and paddled back to Moosonee.  Three of our team portaged the canoes about 1km to the train station, while our gear travelled by pickup taxi. The train trip back to Cochrane was on schedule, arriving at 10:00 p.m.  It took quite a while to retrieve the gear from the freight car, retrieve the cars from the Thriftlodge, secure the canoes very well on their trailer, pack the cars, return to the Thriftlodge and unload our gear.  It was midnight before we were in bed.  What a change from our habit of 8:30 bedtime for the past 10 nights!

Last dawn on the Moose River (Photo credit: Sheila Craig)
The Hudson's Bay Staff House, Moose Factory (Photo credit: Sheila Craig)

Day 12 (June 20): Cochrane and Home

Our team had breakfast at the delightful Railway Café before splitting up to head for home.  The Southern Ontario group decided to take one more detour and visited the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat which they declared was definitely worth the time.  The Eastern Ontario Group hopes to have another opportunity to visit it!

The "Have a Hoot" Crew: Amy, Ange, Barb, Sheila, Catherine, Alex (Photo credit: Barb O’Neill)

Over the course of the 2023 breeding season, atlas staff completed an astonishing amount of work over a vast area of land. Read on to hear each crew’s story!

By Scott Da Rocha, Karl Heide and Claire Atherton

Northwestern Crew (Scott Da Rocha, Evan Sinclair, Erik Van Den Kieboom, Mark Duchene) 

For the Atlas’ North Crew, the 2023 field season was filled with many interesting bird (and other wildlife) encounters, a ton of breeding evidence, many kilometres of hiking, smoke from forest fires, and lots of bugs! We experienced everything from the more populated areas of northern Ontario to the most remote areas. Some of the places we stayed included Ontario Provincial Parks such as Macleod and White River, as well as more remote areas like the Okogi and Kopka rivers. 

Among the 93 species for which we confirmed breeding evidence, we found fledged young for notable species like Sharp-tailed Grouse, Black-billed Magpie, and Barred Owl, with an interesting find of Trumpeter Swan cygnets at the northwest side of Lake Nipigon. We also found many species carrying food to young, including Boreal Chickadee, Yellow-headed Blackbird, and Brewer’s Blackbird, with an interesting observation of a Common Grackle carrying a Red-eyed Vireo nestling (two species confirmed in this case, COGR Carrying Food and REVI Nest with Young!). 

Many nests were encountered during the field season, with highlights including a Black-backed Woodpecker nest with young and a Northern Goshawk sitting on a nest. Of all our records, the most memorable were our encounters with Connecticut Warblers. Although we were never able to confirm breeding, it was spectacular to experience this hard-to-find bird singing in its breeding habitat on multiple occasions throughout the season.

Central Crew (Karl Heide, Dana Latour, Arnaud Valade, Abbey Lewis) 

From the rock barrens of the Georgian Bay to the old-growth pine forests of Marten River Provincial Park, this year’s Central Ontario atlas crew got to experience some of the most beautiful, remote and under-birded parts of the southern shield region. We targeted squares that had received little to no attention thus far in the current atlas, making a significant contribution to the coverage of regions 28-32 and improving the atlas’s ability to draw spatial comparisons in bird abundance with Atlas-1 and Atlas-2.

Our field season was highlighted by large numbers of Crossbills (both White-winged and Red), a surprising abundance of Canada Warblers, many excellent sightings of boreal species like Canada Jay and Black-backed Woodpecker, a close encounter with a Northern Goshawk, and a used copy of Yahtzee that someone picked up at a thrift store in Sudbury. Some of the most significant finds from the season included the confirmed breeding of Sedge Wren in a fen north of Sturgeon Falls, the discovery of an extralimital population of Marsh Wrens at the Burwash Farm southwest of Sudbury, and Ontario’s second and third known records of Wiegand’s Sedge (Carex wiegandii). 

We found a total of 179 active nests of 44 species, a truly impressive number for a crew of atlassers whose primary goal was not nest-searching. Among the most notable nests found were those of Northern Harrier, Brown Thrasher, Canada Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Wood Thrush, Brown Creeper, and Merlin.

The season was not without its challenges, most notably a week-long period of heavy wildfire smoke which eventually became so thick visibility dropped to less than 100 metres. Coincidentally this occurred at the same time we were on crown land and dealing with a disabled field vehicle. More expected were the swarms of biting insects that relentlessly plagued us throughout the summer, many days of extreme heat and periods of drought, which probably exacerbated the wildfires burning to the north of us.         

We are grateful to Ontario Parks for letting us stay free of charge at 5 provincial parks (Sturgeon Bay, Grundy Lake, Restoule, Marten River, Windy Lake). The hot showers and electricity were much appreciated! For our final three weeks, we camped on crown land in two locations; McNish Lake north of Sturgeon Falls, and the Wanapitei River along route 637. Each location we stayed at graced us with a  unique experience and its own assortment of vegetation communities and bird assemblages. I think all 4 of us would do the season again in an instant (and some of us probably will, next year!).

Algonquin Crew (Claire Atherton and Marie-Ève Gagné) 

The Algonquin Crew got the privilege of spending a large part of the spring and summer within beautiful Algonquin Provincial Park. We spent our days in the heart of Algonquin witnessing first-hand the sheer volume of songbirds that this Park produces each year. We had the unique opportunity of accessing Algonquin through a network of roads interspersed throughout the Park, which are normally closed to the public. This gave us an opportunity to explore areas not normally accessible to other Atlassers and volunteers.

We were able to locate 17 different nests throughout the peak season, including those of Song Sparrow, Nashville Warbler, and plenty of woodpeckers. We even had a Blue-headed Vireo nesting across from our campsite at Bonnechere Provincial Park! We encountered plenty of courageous Ruffed Grouse who challenged us (or our vehicle!) if we accidentally got too close for comfort. Towards the end of the season, we watched as fledgling Black-capped Chickadees, Mallards, and American Redstarts learned to navigate the world, while still under the watchful eye of their parents.

Since Algonquin Park is mainly dominated by deciduous or mixed forests, we encountered large numbers of forest songbirds. Some of the most abundant species were Ovenbird, Red-eyed Vireo, White-throated Sparrow, and Nashville Warbler. We also encountered some unexpected species for the area, including Field Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Sandhill Crane, and Cape May Warbler.

As with any field work, we had our fair share of challenges. We ran into the usual hiccups such as minor vehicle troubles, illness, and unrelenting mosquitos. Unique to this season was the intensity of the smoke from wildfires in northern Quebec. There were times when our visibility was limited to only a couple hundred metres ahead of us! However, these challenges made us appreciate our work and made each cool bird and wildlife sighting all the more rewarding.

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to Algonquin, Bonnechere, and Samuel de Champlain Provincial Parks for allowing us to camp for free this season. The staff were helpful with any questions we had, and very accommodating when we had to make last-minute changes.


Birds Canada Logo

Canada Jay Photo: Jim Richards 

Dear Atlasser,

COVID-19: The Atlas team reminds all atlassers to be aware of the latest COVID-19 conditions in Ontario. Please follow all public health guidelines and restrictions, and check for updates frequently. Information on the latest conditions and public health guidance can be found on the Government of Ontario website. Follow the links to the most current situation in the province.

In 2022 and beyond, if COVID protocols and restrictions permit it, we will be focusing a lot of effort on getting atlassers back into northern Ontario, especially into remote areas. Given the lack of data collection in the remote north in 2021, we have some catching up to do.

One of our main priorities is to repeat atlas work done in Atlas-2, from 2001-05, covering the same squares and even a lot of the same point counts. This will primarily involve teams of four people canoeing northern rivers, especially those that pass through the Hudson Bay Lowlands. We are working to subsidize the cost of these trips.

The table below and the map provided here both show nine of the trips we are hoping to run in 2022 and beyond. A more comprehensive list will be available on the Atlas-3 website later this fall. All of the 100-kilometre blocks in northern Ontario must be adequately covered by the end of 2025.

For the nine trips listed here, at least two people in each team of four need to be expert birders capable of doing point counts in remote northern Ontario. And all four need to be experienced campers and canoeists able to work safely in remote wilderness conditions. The trips vary in length from 10 to 17 days on the river, plus time getting to and from the north. Trips will run between mid-June and early July to be at the peak of breeding bird activity.

If you are interested in participating in any of these trips for Atlas-3 — or you have other remote atlassing trips in mind — please visit our website and complete a remote northern atlassing application form providing information about yourself and a trip you would like to do. We will get back in touch with you with the goal of getting as many trips as possible going for 2022 and beyond. We will soon be posting a Northern Atlassing Manual to give you a more complete idea of what northern atlassing entails.

These trips provide a rare opportunity to experience and contribute to the conservation of Ontario’s amazing wilderness. We hope that folks with the right skills will join us for an extraordinary experience and make a valuable contribution to the Atlas project.

Remote Northern Canoe trips

Nine suggested trips are shown on the map and in the table below. If you are interested, please fill out an application form on the website asap.

Trip #

Target Blocks Location Suggested Itinerary (based on Atlas-2) Length of trip (canoe portion)

1

15VV, 15WV Opasquia Provincial Park Drive to Vermillion Bay, float-plane to Opasquia Provincial park and back, then drive home. 12 days

2

16DF, 16DG Fawn and Severn Rivers Drive to Sioux Lookout, float-plane to Fawn River, canoe down Fawn River, then Severn River, commercial flight from Fort Severn to Sioux Lookout, drive home. 17 days

3

15XA, 15XB Sachigo River (Upper) Drive to Nakina, float-plane to upper Sachigo River, canoe downstream, float-plane back out, then drive home. 15 days

4

16CF, 16CG

Sachigo River (Lower)

This trip will be paired with the upper Sachigo Trip. The pick-up flight for the upper trip will bring in the crew for the lower Sachigo trip. 12 days

5

16FC, 16FD Missisa Lake and River Drive to Hearst, float-plane to Missisa Lake, paddle to Attawapiskat River, float-plane to Hearst, drive home. 10 days

6

17LT, 17MT Albany River Drive to Hearst, float-plane to Albany River, paddle 150 km to Fort Albany, commercial flight to Moosonee, travel to Hearst, drive home. 15 days

7

17MS, 17NS Moose River Drive to Cochrane, train to Moose River, paddle to Moosonee, train back to Cochrane, then drive home. 10 days

8

16DB, 16DC Upper Albany River Drive to Nakina, float-plane to Fort Hope, paddle downstream, float-plane from Washi Lake to Nakina, then drive home. 10 days

9

16DD, 16DE Upper Winisk River Travel to Thunder Bay, commercial flight to Webequie, paddle the upper Winisk River, float-plane to Hearst, travel home. May link this trip to a lower Winisk trip. 15 days

Sappy Hour, November 23, 2021: Atlassing in the remote north

Mark your calendar now. To help get you in the mood for northern adventure, we are devoting the November 23 Sappy Hour to Atlassing in the remote north.  Special guest Michael Runtz will provide a 20 minute presentation about his atlassing trip down the Muketei River in the Hudson Bay Lowlands during Atlas-2; Mike Cadman, Mike Burrell and Adam Timpf will provide general information and answer questions about our plans for northern atlassing; Emily Rondel will keep us all in line; and  Kaelyn will keep the broadcast running smoothly.

The event will take place on Zoom webinar (register using the link – here) and will also be streamed to Facebook Live (www.facebook.com/ONBreedingBirdAtlas/live). The event will be recorded for those who cannot attend either on Facebook or Zoom and will be available on our YouTube channel.

Square-bashing coming soon!

We are delighted to announce that plans are underway for our first “square-bash” events for Atlas-3 (Covid safety precautions/restrictions permitting). Square-bashes are fun and productive activities focused on filling gaps in atlas coverage. Both are planned for beautiful provincial parks on the Canadian Shield in June of 2022, in areas rich with warblers, thrushes and other “central” Ontario species. At each location, five campsites (maximum 6 people per site) have been set aside for atlassers with no charge for camping. At least some of the sites will be electrical.

The first is to be at Grundy Provincial Park, north of Parry Sound, from Friday, June 10th to Wednesday, June 15th, 2022. The second is at Mikisew Provincial Park, near South River, from Friday, June 17th to Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022. You could come for the whole 5 days or just part of that time. Our goal is to provide adequate coverage for as many squares as possible in and around each park.

If you are interested in taking in either of these events, please email Kaelyn at atlas@birdsontario.org, telling us which location, what dates work for you, how many people are in your party and whether or not you can do point counts. Please do not contact the parks about these square-bash events as all arrangements are being made through the atlas office.

Hoping you can join us! Thanks to Ontario Parks for making these opportunities available.

Backcountry atlassers wanted in Algonquin

Completing >20 hours of atlassing and >25 point counts during the core period (24 May to 5 July) for the many squares in the interior of Algonquin Provincial Park is very challenging. But for experienced atlassers who are avid canoe campers or backpackers, this area offers beautiful landscapes and excellent birding.

We’re keen to recruit experienced campers to do atlassing in backcountry squares in Algonquin Park that so far have few hours logged during the core period (i.e., <10 hours). If you have a backcountry trip in mind where you can complete at least 20 hours of atlassing in squares that still need hours or you can complete at least 25 in-person or digital point counts in squares that still need them, then we would very much like to hear from you.

If your proposed canoeing or backpacking atlas trip is approved by the Region 27 coordinators and Algonquin Park staff, then your backcountry camping permits will be provided free of charge. To submit a proposed trip plan for review and potential approval, please complete the application form. Please be prepared to provide the number of hours and the number of in-person or digital point counts, if any, you expect to complete in each square you plan to visit during the core period.

Owling in November

If you check the Safe Date charts, you will notice that it is safe to report breeding evidence for Eastern Screech-Owl in November and December, and for Great Horned Owl in December in southern Ontario. Both species are quite vocal at this time of year as they advertise their territories and seek mates. Although November is in the shoulder season for Great Horned Owls (when some are starting breeding behaviours and some are still dispersing), calling birds can be counted as “S” for singing and “T” for Territory. So, to clarify, calling Screech-Owls and Great Horned Owls in November and December can be counted as breeding evidence for the Atlas. Great Horned Owls in November that are not calling should not be given breeding evidence.

Atlasser chip notes

Atlassing Adventures in Wabakimi Summer 2021, by Mhairi McFarlane

Having taken up canoeing on, appropriately, Canada Day in just 2020, the next obvious step was to embark on an 18-day, 300-km wilderness trip in 2021. Although this sounds crazy, we’ve been privileged to have done plenty of wilderness hiking in various parts of the world, and had done two white water canoe training courses and a river rescue course, so we were more prepared than it sounds. It seemed obvious that this was a great opportunity to contribute to Atlas-3. With lots of unknowns around COVID-19 restrictions, there were unlikely to be any organized trips to the north in 2021. We gritted our teeth about feeding the bugs and arranged our dates to coincide with breeding bird season. Two days of driving later, we arrived at Armstrong and were dropped off by an outfitter at the roadside at the south end of Caribou Lake, on June 21, 2021. This was the start of a 300 km adventure that would take us across Wabakimi Provincial Park, down the Misehkow River and along the Albany River to Miminiska Lake, where our outfitter would pick us up in a float plane on July 8th. We borrowed two Acoustic Recording Units (ARU) and a handheld recording device and I received a great training session from Rich Russell, a wildlife biologist at the Canadian Wildlife Service, over zoom before we left.

All packed up and ready to go: our put-in at the start of our 300 km, 18 day adventure. Caribou Lake Road, June 21, 2021 ©Mhairi McFarlane

I downloaded the Atlas squares we would paddle through to the Gaia GPS app, and attempted to collect data in as many as possible. We had some pretty tough conditions, including headwinds for the first week, which lost us some time, then some rather epic portage clearing, so we had a lot less time and energy to collect data than I’d hoped. It turns out that rolling into camp between 6 and 9 pm is not conducive to early morning starts, so I only managed 2 in-person point counts! We managed to get either one or both of the ARUs out on 13 nights, for a total of 19 recording sessions. Combined with around 135 daytime eBird checklists which I ported over to the atlas, it was pleasing to be able to add some data for quite a few pretty remote squares.

These figures show the general location of our canoe route, north of Lake Nipigon, and a more detailed view of the squares we passed through along the way.

Some species which dominated the soundscape throughout include Northern Waterthrush and White-throated Sparrows, while Tennessee Warblers split our ears along the shrubby banks of the Misehkow in particular. It was a new experience for me to be dive-bombed by Greater Yellowlegs – despite our best efforts to avoid disturbing the many pairs we encountered. The Misehkow area also proved to be quite the Common Goldeneye factory, with the occasional Mallard and American Black Duck too. We came across one probable and one confirmed breeding Trumpeter Swan. One highlight was a flock of 14 American White Pelicans on our very last morning on Miminiska Lake! We came across quite a few sets of Boreal Chickadees, and had several fun encounters with Canada Jays with young of the year in tow.

I always get a kick out of seeing shorebirds up trees! This was one of many very territorial Greater Yellowlegs we came across on the Albany River July 6, 2021 ©Mhairi McFarlane

We enjoyed some great non-bird experiences too of course: we almost lost count of how many American Black Bears and Moose we saw, but we were particularly excited to see Woodland Caribou on two occasions. Both were very distant groups of swimming adults with calves in tow.

In terms of gear, some items we were very grateful to have: “Eureka no-bug zone” bug shelter. Although the biting insects weren’t as bad as they can be, they certainly had their moments and this bug tarp provided some much needed relief during mealtimes. Although we relied on paper maps for navigation, having Gaia GPS app on our phones was very helpful for small-scale route finding, and making sure where the Atlas squares were. We also used our phones for eBird, iNaturalist, and photos, so we appreciated having a couple of battery packs and a “Big Blue” solar charger. Our canoe is an H2O Voyageur 17’, made of innegra-kevlar-epoxy (approximately 25 kg, 55 lbs). Despite low water levels and many associated knocks and scrapes, it performed extremely well on flatwater and rapids alike. It now has many, many battle scars, but no repairs required!

We did not see any other humans at all between day 2 and day 16, so it was a true wilderness experience. Despite the occasional hardships of this trip, I can’t wait to embark on another northern river adventure in 2022, building on what I learned this year and hopefully contributing more data from another part of Ontario’s stunning boreal landscape. You can read more technical details about our trip on the Friends of Wabakimi trip forum page here: https://www.wabakimi.org/trip-report-forum.html  (look for “Little Caribou to Miminiska, June/July 2021”).

 

If you have an interesting discovery or fun story to share from your atlassing that you’d like to share, please send it to atlas@birdsontario.org

 

Until next time,

– The Atlas-3 Team

 

 

The Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas-3 thanks the following for their financial support:

Environment and Climate Change Canada

TD Friends of the Environment Foundation

Vortex

Natural Resource Solutions Inc.,

Hodgson Family Foundation

Baillie Fund

RBC Foundation

Employment and Social Development Canada

(Canada Summer Jobs)

 

The Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas-3 thanks the following for their in-kind support:

Boreal Avian Modelling Project

Natural Resources Canada 

Ontario Parks 

Parks Canada

Royal Ontario Museum 

Sustainable Forestry Initiative 

University of Alberta 

Wild Birds Unlimited 

WildTrax

Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry

 






Atlas-3 Logo

Jaseur d’Amérique Photo: Mark Peck

COVID-19: L’équipe de l’Atlas tient à rappeler à tous les atlasseurs de s’informer des dernières conditions reliées à la COVID-19 en Ontario. Veuillez suivre toutes les directives et restrictions en matière de santé publique et vérifier fréquemment les mises à jour. Vous trouverez de l’information sur les conditions les plus récentes et des conseils en matière de santé publique sur les sites Web du gouvernement de l’Ontario. Suivez les liens pour connaître la situation la plus récente.

Cher participant(e) à l’Atlas,

Voici le nouveau format pour vous tenir au courant des activités reliées à l’Atlas. Chaque mois, nous envoyerons de courts bulletins d’information dans le but de fournir des mises à jour à la communauté d’atlasseurs. Nous avons besoin de votre aide pour nommer ces bulletins mensuels – rendez-vous sur le site Web pour voter pour votre nom préféré!

L’Atlas a fait du chemin depuis que nous devions ciseler nos données sur des tablettes de pierre lors de l’Atlas-1 en 1981-1985 (on plaisante!). Altas-1 à été un effort prodigieux de la communauté d’amateurs d’oiseaux mais nous n’avions pas accès à une application consacrée à l’atlas, ni à la panoplie de ressources d’apprentissage que nous avons aujourd’hui, ni aux appareils mobiles qui aident les atlasseurs de bien des façons. Bien que la technologie ait évolué considérablement au fil des années, en passant des données transcrites à la main jusqu’à la création d’application pour téléphone mobile, l’essence même de l’Atlas demeure la même – documenter la distribution et l’abondance relative de chaque espèce qui niche en Ontario. Cependant, peu importe à quel point la technologie évolue, l’élément clé pour un atlas réussi c’est vous, les bénévoles!

Juin constitue l’apogée de la saison de nidification et de la collecte de données de l’atlas. Presque tous les oiseaux qu’on croise démontrent des comportements reliés à la reproduction et sont donc prêts à être documentés. Si vous n’avez pas encore commençé, n’hésitez pas plus longtemps. La saison de reproduction est étonnamment courte et nous n’en avons que 5 – alors que le plaisir commence! Les activités de reproduction deviennent beaucoup plus calmes au début de juillet et se terminent presqu’entièrement par la fin de juillet.

Si vous parcourez déjà le terrain, merci beaucoup; nous espérons que tout se déroule bien. Voici quelques statistiques intéressantes:

  • En date du 23 juin, 928 participants ont entré plus de 27 000 listes d’observation et documenté plus de 20 000 heures de collecte de données. Vous pouvez consulter la progression de l’atlas par vous même sur le site de NatureCounts en choisissant «Explorer» et «Résumé de l’Atlas» 
  • Les atlasseurs d’Ottawa (Région 24 – aussi connue, à juste titre, sous le nom «Le formidable 24»!) sont en tête du peloton dans la catégorie du nombre de listes d’observation (2162 en date du 23 juin) à peine devant la région de Peterborough (1955)  suivi de près par Kingston (1568) et Simcoe (1546).
  • À titre d’inspiration, soulignons aussi quelques efforts individuels exceptionnels: Don « regardez-le aller » Sutherland a déjà entré 643 listes d’observation! Et David et Reagan « quelle équipe! » Goodyear ont effectué 245 heures de collecte de données. C’est merveilleux de voir de tels efforts déployés pour ce projet.  

Ressources:

Vous trouverez tout ce dont vous avez besoin pour participer à l’Atlas-3 sur le site Web de l’Atlas des oiseaux nicheurs de l’Ontario (www.birdsontario.org/?lang=fr)

NatureCounts est la base de données où les données de l’atlas sont rassemblées et gérées. Le portail Web de NatureCounts est relié au site Web de l’Atlas, mais contient les ressources et les sommaires spécifiques à la collecte de données.

  • Sommaires des données: Les résumés des statistiques de l’atlas permettent aux participants de consulter le nombre d’heures, d’espèces ou de listes d’observation dans une région ou une parcelle. La carte de couverture offre une représentation visuelle des statistiques, montrant combien d’espèces, d’heures et de listes d’observation ont été accomplies. Cette carte affiche également des informations importantes au sujet des emplacements tels les limites géographiques des régions d’atlas et l’emplacement des parcelles prioritaires. La carte de répartition présente les lieux où les espèces ont été observées ainsi que l’indice de nidification le plus probant qui a été enregistré.
  • Ressources: La page Ressources de parcelles d’atlas vous premet de télécharger la carte d’une parcelle, les informations géographiques (frontières de parcelle et emplacements des stations de points d’écoute) ainsi que le résumé de parcelle qui montre l’indice de nidification le plus élevé pour chaque espèce observée lors de l’Atlas-2 et l’Atlas-3 pour une parcelle particulière. La page Ressources de l’Atlas contient des documents importants comme la lettre de demande d’accès aux propriétaires fonciers (vous devez être connecté à votre compte pour avoir accès à cette page)
  • L’application NatureCounts: La dernière version de l’appli NatureCounts fonctionne mieux que les versions précédentes; nous avons corrigé plusieurs pépins et apporté une série d’améliorations. Un des ajouts majeurs est la capacité d’ajouter l’emplacement précis pour une espèce individuelle. S’il-vous-plait, utilisez cette fonction pour entrer les coordonnées précises de toutes les observations d’espèces désignées importantes. Pour plus d’information, ce tutoriel YouTube vous présente les étapes à suivre.
  • Une difficulté qui persiste toutefois (en particulier pour les appareils iOS et plus rarement pour certains appareils de type Android) est l’arrêt complet de l’appli lorsque celle-ci est reléguée à l’arrière-plan. Par exemple, lorsque vous éteignez votre téléphone mobile, vous devez relancer l’appli et votre liste d’observation en cours pourrait se retrouver dans le dossier brouillon. Ceci provoque malheureusement l’arrêt de l’enregistrement du trajet GPS. Cette complication est due en grande partie à l’appareil qui tente de réduire l’épuisement de la pile en arrêtant l’appli pendant l’enregistrement de votre piste GPS en arrière-plan. Ceci est plus fréquent lorsque la pile s’épuise.
  • Si vous avez des questions ou commentaires concernant l’application NatureCounts, veuillez remplir le formulaire suivant: (https://www.birdsontario.org/app-feedback/) Vous pouvez aussi noter vos observations dans un carnet et les soumettre directement par l’entremise du portail Web ou transposer vos listes d’observation d’eBird (en anglais)

Ressources vidéo: La chaîne YouTube de l’Atlas-3 offre une variété de tutoriels utiles. Vous y trouverez les enregistrements des sessions Sappy Hours ainsi que les sessions présentées lors du lancement virtuel de l’Atlas-3. De plus, la chaîne YouTube de l’Atlas-3 offre plusieurs tutoriels, y compris l’entrée des données, les points d’écoute par enregistrement numérique, et bien plus encore.

Au delà des relevés de base: 

La saison des points d’écoute est en cours. Les points d’écoute forment l’élément clé qui permet à l’Atlas de cartographier l’abondance relative des espèces à travers la province. Ceux-ci peuvent être réalisés à partir du 24 mai au sud et du 1er juin au nord de la province, et se poursuivent jusqu’au 10 juillet. Les méthodes détaillées pour les points d’écoute se retrouvent sur la page suivante https://www.birdsontario.org/instructions/?lang=fr. Pour ceux qui n’aiment pas lire (), les tutoriels suivants démontrent les aspects variés des points d’écoute:

Certains relevés spéciaux sont aussi en cours. L’Inventaire des oiseaux de marais s’effectue au courant de la même saison que les points d’écoute, et l’Inventaire des engoulevents se déroule du 15 juin au 10 juillet. Ces deux relevés fourniront une variété de nouveaux renseignements sur l’état et la répartition de ces groupes d’oiseaux envers lesquels nous portons un intéret particulier pour la conservation, mais qui ne font pas l’objet d’étude suffisante lors des relevés aviaires traditionnels. L’inventaire des oiseaux de marais peut être accompli uniquement par des participants capables d’identifier les oiseaux par leurs sons, tandis que le relevé d’engoulevents convient aux ornithologues amateurs débutants (quoiqu’il est plaisant pour les participants de tous les niveaux)    

Notes de l’atlasseur

Nous présentons ici une note de la part d’un atlasseur sur un sujet relié à l’atlas. Pour ce mois-ci, Roxane Filion nous décrit ses premières tentatives avec l’appareil Zoom H2N pour enregistrer un point d’écoute numérique:

«Nous savons tous à quel point la foret boréale nord-ontarienne est vitale pour les oiseaux nicheurs mais évaluer les changements dans l’état des espèces qui en dépendent pour se reproduire est un défi de taille; non seulement en raison de son immensité, mais la faible densité de population signifie que très peu de miroiseurs bénévoles y sont présents pour recueillir les données indispensables. Lorsque l’appareil Zoom H2N a été présenté aux atlasseurs comme un moyen d’enregistrer les points d’écoute dans les parcelles dont la couverture n’obtiendra pas le nombre suffisant de points d’écoute traditionnels, j’ai trouvé ça interessant mais j’ai vite été intimidé par le manuel d’instructions et les paramètres multiples; la technologie n’est pas mon truc. Cependant, cet appareil offre la possibilité de créer des cartes d’abondance relative plus précises pour les espèces du nord de l’Ontario – un objectif qui me tient à coeur. J’ai dû l’essayer.

Après avoir lu les instructions et visionner le tutoriel vidéo, j’ai réglé mon réveil; il était temps de découvrir si quelqu’un qui éprouve des difficultés avec une télécommande de télévision peut utiliser cet appareil et obtenir un enregistrement de qualité suffisante. Je me suis rendue dans le sentier le plus près pour un test. L’installation de l’appareil à la hauteur de mon oreille sur une branche, un tronc ou un trépied était facile. Lors de mon tout premier essai, lorsqu’est venu le temps d’énoncer mon information, je n’étais pas prête: j’ai oublié le numéro de parcelle et la date, et je tentais de trouver l’emplacement sur la carte; mais tout cela était sans importance vu que j’avais aussi oublié d’appuyer sur le bouton d’enregistrement. Voilà l’utilité d’un exercice! Les tests suivants se sont bien déroulés. De retour à la maison, j’ai fait l’écoute de mes enregistrements à l’aide d’écouteurs (aïe!) J’étais assurée de mon silence mais en réalité, j’ai fait tellement de bruit que mon ouïe en a souffert. La prochaine fois, je laisse derrière ma veste en nylon, je ne bougerai pas mes pieds, je ne chercherai pas de stylo dans mes poches et ne tiendrai pas de feuille de papier.

Le lendemain, j’étais prête très tôt- le moment optimal pour débuter les points d’écoute est juste avant le lever du soleil. J’ai pu enregistrer 9 points d’écoute avant 8:45. À un moment donné, j’ai remarqué que le paramètre “surround” a été accidentellement déplaçé alors j’ai dû le régler à nouveau à l’aide de l’aide-mémoire. De retour à la maison, j’ai téléchargé les fichiers audio et les ai transposés dans le dossier de l’Atlas de Wildtrax à l’aide du programme FileZilla.

Bref, cet appareil est plus facile à utiliser qu’il paraît et la marche à suivre est simple. Si vous habitez une région peu peuplée, surtout au nord de Gravenhurst, et que vous êtes intéressé à effectuer ces enregistrements, communiquez avec votre coordonatrice ou coordonnateur régional. Votre CR vous indiquera s’il y a des parcelles cibles qui pourraient en bénéficier dans votre région et peut vous prêter l’enregistreur numérique.

Conseils:

  1. Visionnez le tutoriel YouTube sur l’enregistrement de points d’écoute numériques.
  2. Imprimez l’Aide Mémoire (et apportez-le avec vous pour vérifier les paramètres à quelques reprises sur le terrain)
  3. Réglez les paramètres du Zoom H2N à la maison, y compris la date et l’heure.
  4. Soyez prêt pour l’énonciation avec votre information à la portée de la main :  nom, date, heure, numéro de parcelle et numéro du point d’écoute (ou coordonnés UTM ou latitude et longitude pour un point d’écoute hors-route).
  5. Faites d’abord un enregistrement d’essai et écoutez-le à l’aide d’écouteurs pour vous assurer que vous êtes aussi silencieux qu’une Chouette lapone qui dort.
  6. Portez du coton, de la laine ou des vêtements confortables et « silencieux » qui vous permettront de lever le bras pour chasser un moustique sans nuire aux tympans de l’analyste.
  7. Apportez des piles supplémentaires. Soyez prudent et profitez de la matinée!

Quelle belle occasion de collaborer et fournir des données vitales au projet même si on ne peut identifier tous les oiseaux entendus! Et, plus tard, lorsque vous contemplerez les cartes d’abondance relative pour votre paruline préférée, vous aurez la satisfaction d’avoir joué un role dans la création de ces cartes tout en appréciant la symphonie matinale des oiseaux.

 

Meilleures salutations,

L’équipe de l’Atlas-3

 

 

 

L’Atlas des oiseaux nicheurs de l’Ontario remercie les organismes suivants pour leur soutien financier:

Environnement et changement climatique Canada

TD Friends of the Environment Foundation

Vortex

Natural Resource Solutions Inc.,

Hodgson Family Foundation

Baillie Fund

RBC Foundation

Employment and Social Development Canada

(Canada Summer Jobs)

L’Atlas des oiseaux nicheurs de l’Ontario remercie les organismes suivants pour leur soutien logistique:

Boreal Avian Modelling Project

Ressources naturelles Canada 

Parcs Ontario

Parcs Canada

Musée Royale de l’Ontario  

Sustainable Forestry Initiative 

University of Alberta 

Wild Birds Unlimited 

WildTrax

 

 


 

 

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