[birdky] FW: [SHOREBIRDS] Arctic Breeding Conditions in 2009

Thanks to John Brunjes (Ron Pittaway/Jean Iron summary) and Ron Cicerello 
(Winnipeg newspaper link) for passing along the following very interesting 
information about conditions in the Arctic this summer that may be affecting 
the numbers of fall migrant shorebirds and waterfowl we see later this year.
 
Link to poor breeding conditions here:

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/westview/big-chill-in-churchill-47992231.html
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
 
An more in-depth analysis from Ron Pittaway and Jean Iron on the topic:

Begin forwarded message:

From: Jean Iron <jeaniron@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: June 26, 2009 8:52:55 AM EDT
To: <mailto:SHOREBIRDS@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> SHOREBIRDS@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [SHOREBIRDS] Arctic Breeding Conditions in 2009
Reply-To: Jean Iron <jeaniron@xxxxxxxxxxxx>



        Yesterday we saw an adult Lesser Yellowlegs near Toronto and on
        Wednesday there was an adult Least Sandpiper in Hamilton at the west
        end of Lake Ontario. These are the first "fall migrant" shorebirds in
        southern Ontario and they are right on schedule.
        
        Several people asked us to comment about recent reports of a
        "Disastrous breeding season in the Arctic". The Arctic is huge; it is
        3500 km from southern James Bay (subarctic) to northern Ellesmere
        Island. Most shorebirds have large breeding ranges and even in late
        years many birds breed successfully and rarely does the entire Arctic
        experience the same climatic conditions. We checked with northern
        researchers and summarized their comments below. Shorebird nesting in
        2009 is poor in some regions but normal to good elsewhere.
        
        Ontario: Ken Abraham reports that conditions in the Hudson Bay
        Lowlands were about 10 days late from Attawapiskat south on James
        Bay, including Akimiski Island, with Canada Geese and Snow Geese
        hatching in mid June, more like the 1990s average than the 2000s
        average and within the overall norms. Other species on Akimiski
        Island were correspondingly late. His guess is that for those species
        that require shorter time there will be some reduction but not huge.
        Perhaps the predation effect will be somewhat greater if alternate
        species are less available. Because coastal snow, ice and water
        inundation conditions were similar from Cape Henrietta Maria to the
        Manitoba border, Ken expects that for Canada Geese nesting within 40
        - 60 km from the coast, a much reduced effort and productivity will
        be the norm. Snow Geese at Cape Henrietta Maria were greatly down and
        the suggestion of a 90% reduction seems to fit what they saw on their
        survey. However, beyond 40 - 60 km inland, he thinks conditions will
        be different. Mark Peck said that species nesting away from the
        Hudson Bay Coast in boreal bogs and fens such as yellowlegs should
        not be severely impacted because much of the freeze took place near the 
coast.
        
        Manitoba: The situation is worse in northern Manitoba at Churchill
        where temperatures were well below normal until recently and the snow
        cover melted late. However, Erica Nol reports that birds have started
        to nest, just very late, and it won't be a complete bust for
        shorebirds if there are enough bare spots. Whimbrels and Hudsonian
        Godwits are nesting, but overall nesting success should be below
        average for most shorebirds in northern Manitoba.
        
        Nunavut: Snow melt was up to three weeks late in mainland Nunavut
        north of Manitoba. Recent temperatures have been close to normal.
        Much of Baffin Island is now snow free and conditions there and on
        Bylot Island are about normal. High Arctic breeders should have a
        good breeding year.
        
        Northwest Territories: Vicky Johnston suspects it will be a poor
        breeding year in parts of the Western Arctic. Spring was roughly
        three weeks late in Yellowknife on Great Slave Lake based on
        leaf-out. The Mackenzie Valley and Delta warmed early but then cooled
        off again. The Delta flooded slowly and the water receded slowly, so
        some prime shorebird breeding areas were subject to heavy predation.
        
        Yukon: Cameron Eckert reports a late spring, but once the heat came,
        everything shifted into high gear.
        
        Alaska: Declan Troy reports from the North Slope that the snow on the
        tundra is long gone. It was much warmer earlier in the month and his
        guess is that the breeding season has been early there.
        
        We will be recording the arrivals and numbers of adult and juvenile
        shorebirds in southern Ontario and may post updates.
        
        Acknowledgements: We thank Ken Abraham, Bruce Di Labio, Cameron
        Eckert, Michel Gosselin, Vicky Johnston, Erica Nol, Mark Peck, Ken
        Ross, Don Sutherland, and Declan Troy.
        
        Ron Pittaway and Jean Iron
        Toronto, Ontario
        

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