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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Breeding Grounds Survey: A Gorgeous Day to Fly

May 28, 2014 - Eastern and Northern Ontario
  • A hillside in southeastern Quebec with numerous wind turbines. Photo by Steve Earsom, USFWS
    photo by Steve Earsome, USFWS
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By Steve Earsom, USFWS pilot biologist, Eastern and Northern Ontario

Like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, I hesitantly pull back the curtain of my room in Kapuskasing, Ontario, this morning. I’m greeted with a solid, low overcast as far as the eye can see, early risers outside wearing sweaters and jackets, and a slack Canadian flag on the flagpole. It’s a perfect day.

For many flying endeavors, and indeed for other places on our survey, I’d like to see a cloud deck much higher. However, the terrain here around “Kap” is flat as it slopes imperceptibly toward the James Bay to the north. The solid overcast greatly reduces the glare and allows for easier identification of ducks, and the calm winds combined with the overcast make for a much smoother ride. Finally, the cool weather keeps the plane’s cabin much more comfortable, so overall it’s a set up that makes for a much easier day of flying.

Regarding habitat, except for the occasional beaver dam that broke leaving a pond down from its edges, the semi-permanent depressional wetlands and permanent lakes look fantastic. Water is everywhere, and in just about the right amount—at least for ducks. Some humans have been greatly inconvenienced, and I’ll get to that in a later log.

White Pines Inn at Black Donald Lake. Photo by Steve Earsom, USFWS

Instrument conditions in southern Quebec on the way to a required aircraft inspection. Photo by Steve Earsom, USFWS

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