By Jim Wortham, USFWS pilot biologist, Western Ontario and North Central Quebec
A few aircraft delays kept us from launching the survey as planned from Maryland. Now that we are piloting flying computers, we have to ensure that the software is in order. Our delays resulted in benefits, as it resulted in our timing being perfect when reaching western Ontario. The ice had recently vanished on all of the lakes in the southern portions of the Stratum and remained only on the larger lakes in the North. It seems that we have hit that sweet spot in which the ice has broken up but the deciduous leaves have yet to unfurl. This allows for breeding birds to settle across the landscape, but still be seen from the air—particularly in some of the narrower creeks. This is the first year for our biological observer, Brad Pendley, to see this country, but he hasn’t had much time to soak it in as a streak of good flying weather has kept us moving. Western Ontario was not surveyed last year, and it is reassuring to see how well the habitat is doing. Excellent water conditions prevail in the southern areas, and the beavers are living up to their role in creating and maintaining many ponds and wetlands to serve as garden plots for growing ducks.
Get more information about the 2014 BPOP Survey and other waterfowl surveys at Flyways.us
Find more breeding waterfowl and habitat updates on the DU Habitat Map