Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Long time no post! Moosonee Trip!! (1)

At the end of September and into the beginning of October, I joined my friends Alan Wormington and Josh Vandermeulen on a week-long trip to Moosonee. Moosonee is slightly south of James Bay, near the mouth of the Moose River. It is a very small town (to me it seemed tiny, but it's not so small compared to other northern towns) and the only way to get there is by train, boat, or aircraft. We had to drive about 1000 km to a town called Cochrane, then the famous Polar Bear Express train took us the rest of the way to Moosonee.

Here is my first journal of the trip. This is what we did and saw on our way to Moosonee:

Thursday, 26 September, 2013
Midnight to supper time: we drove and drove and looked at many spots such as sewage lagoons, a garbage dump, and a few open field areas. We didn't see anything too crazy today, and I didn't sleep the previous night so I was too tired to look very hard, but also too tired to care about not looking. We did see a Black-backed Woodpecker, which was a lifer for me! I only got a quick glance at it after Josh and Alan noticed it, so I would love to see another one sometime soon.

We saw this Sora at the Powassan sewage lagoons, I believe:

Friday, 27 September, 2013
We drove on a highway (at a very, very fast speed) to Abitibi Dam then to Fraserdale, and we stumbled upon a few Gray Jays, about 15 Spruce Grouse, and 5 Ruffed Grouse, which were all new life-list species for me! We got very close to some of the grouse and took some beautiful photos of them. Below are some of my nicer Spruce and Ruffed Grouse photos from the trip.

At Abitibi Dam, we looked pretty hard for Northern Wheatear, as we did at many of our stops, and came up with very few birds, period. I did see and photograph my first Wood Frog and a rather interesting dragonfly.

This is a Boreal Snaketail dragonfly (thanks Bill Lamond for the ID, and Alan for asking him!). We saw a couple of these at Abitibi Dam. They were a bit wary, but stayed low and were much less flighty than darners. It appears that their flight time ends in September, so I guess this sighting pushed a bit late seeing as this was one of the last days of September. Regardless, a very nice looking species!

This compound (too big to call a house) was abandoned, and there were large areas of uncut grass all over the place so we naturally looked around for birds. Like in an eerie movie or something, an old man showed up out of no where while we birded that area (all of a sudden he was just standing there near our car!) and in a Clint Eastwood sort of way asked, "They doin' anything with that place?" We didn't know... We just wanted a Northern Wheatear! He went on to tell us that it was apparently being built for about $50 million, and after about $25M, the owner ran out of money and stopped construction. Wow, that's a big house and a lot of money! Needless to say, the three of us turned to look at something and when we turned back, the old man was gone. Okay, so maybe it didn't happen in such an eerie way, but his Clint Eastwood demeanor made me imagine it that way. Lol.

Here are a few neat flowers that I saw. The first one is an Oxeye Daisy and the second is a Common Tansy. Thank you Alan for those identifications!

Around lunch time we boarded the Polar Bear Express from Fraserdale to Moosonee. This was my first time riding a train and it was a lot of fun! It was less bumpy than driving a car, and the windows were huge - perfect for finding and viewing birds! We saw 5 Sharp-tailed Grouse (lifer!) and Josh taught me about many of the tree species that we passed.
 At the moment I took this photo, I was very excited. I was about to take my first choo-choo ride!

Thank you for reading!

Next blog: Moosonee!


  1. Looking forward to the rest of the posts!

  2. Like a little kid in a candy store!

  3. Bill Lamond says that the dragonfly is a Boreal Snaketail.