Wetland conditions have been quite variable, both between and within regions. Larger wetlands and/or wetlands situated lower in the watershed are in better condition than shallow basins that got a shorter-term benefit from last year's flooding. These latter basins are now suffering from a lack of precipitation since last July.
Although pairing opportunities will be adequate for waterfowl, settling opportunities will become limited as seasonal and temporary basins continue to dry up. Wetland conditions generally improve towards the Saskatchewan border.
Spring arrived early in Manitoba, and runoff was underway in southern breeding ranges by March 11. The runoff period was short throughout the south, largely due to a lack of winter snowpack and above-normal temperatures that prevailed until early April. Although precipitation has been frequent, accumulations remain below average.
The first Canada geese were observed on March 10, and mallards and pintails arriving shortly after. There was an initial influx of early arrivals by most species this year. However, given the more seasonal temperatures of April, the overall migration was only slightly ahead of the norm. There was a large reverse migration of snow geese in late March, when they ran into adverse conditions in northern Manitoba.
Large groups were not readily observed after that.
Weather does not appear to have affected breeding and nesting efforts this year. Geese are well into incubation, and early-arriving ducks species are nesting. Upland conditions remain favourable, and winter wheat survival is good — beyond most expectations.
Nesting efforts and success of diving ducks, such as canvasbacks and redheads, will likely be lower than normal. This is especially true in the Minnedosa pothole region, where poorer wetland conditions reduced availability of flooded vegetative habitat. This is due, in part, to last year's flood, which resulted in an expanded cattail ring that is now dry due to receded levels. Upland-nesting species should be less impacted by such conditions.
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