Q. What skills are required to participate?
A. We are seeking qualified individuals to assist with field studies at shorebird field camps at remote locations along the James Bay coast in northern Ontario, Canada. The idea candidates has will have remote field work experience and demonstrated knowledge of shorebird identification. Applicants must be physically fit (able to hike up to 20km a day across mud/marsh) and maintain a positive attitude despite inclement weather with biting insects. Banders should have extensive experience banding migratory birds; experience banding shorebirds and NABC certification is preferred. Strong interpersonal communication skills and the ability to work as a team are required.
Q. What do you do up there?
A. We are collecting data to assist with the conservation of shorebirds staging at coastal zones along James Bay. Regular duties include conducting counts and behavioural observations of shorebirds, sampling of benthic invertebrates, assisting with camp chores, and depending on the site, trapping, banding and radio-tagging of shorebirds. Counts and sampling are conducted on foot and require walks of 10-20 km per day. Volunteers should expect to share in all camp-life tasks which may take as long as 2 hours per day (i.e., cooking, cleaning, collecting and filtering water). This is an excellent opportunity to gain additional field experience in a remote setting. Volunteers work up to 8 weeks at remote field sites along James Bay, ON.
Q.What is covered while volunteers are at a field camp?
A. All expenses are reimbursed up to $1,000 (CAD). We are looking for volunteers to start mid-July, with opportunities to participate until the first week of September. Maximum 8 weeks in camp.
Q. What is the time commitment?
A. This is a full-time volunteer position (40 hrs/week) with a minimum 3-week commitment. Shared, rustic field housing is the only option, as participants are flown to remote camps via helicopter on a roughly 2-week rotation.
Q. How do crews get to the field sites?
A. Most arrangements are made for you. Travel to and from Moosonee, Ontario, including accommodations and transportation are usually paid for in advance of your trip. We travel as a group from the Toronto, Ontario area to Cochrane, Ontario, where we overnight and catch the train to Moosonee the next morning. From Moosonee, we are flown to our field camps by helicopter. Helicopter flights are arranged by the Project. If you are flying to Toronto prior to the drive up to Cochrane, please ensure you communicate your accommodations and have a pick-up arranged so we don’t leave you behind. You may need to pay for a train ticket or a hotel room, but these costs will be reimbursed to volunteers upon your return.
Please see Chapter 1 of the field protocols for more information.
Q. What gear do I need to bring?
A. The James Bay coast can be wet, cold, and very windy; it can also be dry, hot, and windless. The best footwear are 18-inch rubber boots. We suggest something like these. Consider the time of year and the amount of clothing you really need. Avoid cotton shirts and pants as they dry slowly and do not provide any insulation when wet. Make sure your clothing layers well, giving you the greatest flexibility in a variety of temperatures. Be prepared for sitting with a flock of shorebirds for three hours in the cool or wet early morning, and also for some balmy t-shirt days. You want to have windproof clothing. Once the wind dies down, be ready for an onslaught of mosquitoes. Tightly woven, non-stretch fabrics will form a barrier to insects. Avoid brightly coloured outer garments which will startle the birds and will prevent you from blending into the landscape (a priority of our research). Earth tones are a must. Do not bring your best clothing as you will be unavoidably soiled during the season.
Keep in mind that you may have to carry your gear a number of kilometres across the mud flats to the camp. Excluding the clothes you will be wearing, we therefore expect you to fit your gear into one large 90-120L backpack! Plan on wearing 16-inch high rubber boots or waterproof hiking boots and gaiters and keep your raingear accessible.
Please see Chapter 1 of the field protocols for a complete list of suggested gear.