Birding in James Bay

Ted Cheskey

Ted Cheskey, Senior Conservation Manager

Last summer, Nature Canada led an expedition to Charlton Island in James Bay in the Cree Nation of Waskaganish’s traditional territory for 6 days and had observed over 10,000 shorebirds, including nearly 100 endangered Red Knots and new breeding records for the threatened Horned Grebe. This year, we are returning for 10 days with a bigger crew to do more thorough searches!

Charlton Island is a 3 hour boat trip through Rupert Bay, and is situated in the south eastern side of James Bay. It has a rich and amazing history, but is also an incredible place for wildlife. In addition to very large numbers of shorebirds, Charlton is regularly visited by Polar Bears and Walruses, who are occasionally observed on the beaches.

Nature Canada’s senior manager Ted Cheskey will be accompanied by Marc Antoine Montpetit, an expert birder from Mont Laurier, Quebec, and five local team members including Garry Salt and Clayton Jolly, both returning from last year’s expedition, and new members Jordan Rabbitskin and Jeremy Stevens. Elder Bill Jolly and Clayton will be the boat pilots and local guides.

Image of Workshop with Cree Nation of Waskaganish

Workshop with Cree Nation of Waskaganish. Photo by Ted Cheskey.

One exciting additional activity to this year will be installation of a MOTUS wildlife tracking tower on the island. Garry Salt will oversee the installation of the tower on Charlton, after helping with installation at the Waskaganish CTA office last week. The MOTUS tower antennas receive signals from any animal carrying a nanotag – a tiny transmitter that sends pulse of information about the identity of the animal carrying it. These antennas have the ability to detect a signal from up to 15 kilometres away! The tags used in this project have been deployed on shorebirds on the western coast of James Bay, as well as many other species of birds elsewhere in the Americas.

Image of a MOTUS Tower

Ted and Marc Antoine Montpetit at the new MOTUS tower at the Waskaganish CTA office.

The people in Waskaganish who are participating or aware of this project are very excited about the MOTUS system and learning what bird are coming into their territory!

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