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Breeding Grounds Survey: Newfoundland in the Books, on to Labrador

May 30, 2014 - Maine and Atlantic Canada
  • Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland.
    photo by Mark Koneff, USFWS
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By Mark Koneff, USFWS pilot biologist, Maine and Atlantic Canada

A ridge of high pressure moving south out of Labrador finally moved the persistent low off the east coast of Newfoundland, and the beleaguered east coast saw a rare glimpse of sun on May 29. It didn't last long, but it was enough to give us the window we needed to complete the Newfoundland survey. Despite the sun, the onshore flow kept high temperatures from rising much above freezing, which seemed fitting given the many icebergs just offshore. Wetlands and lakes in the lower elevations on the east coast, however, were ice free and conditions appear good for breeding waterfowl. After a fuel stop in Deer Lake, NL, we continued the survey of the north peninsula of Newfoundland. The survey occurs within the coastal plain on the west side of the peninsula, as well as the northern tip of the peninsula where the terrain falls off to the sea. Getting to the survey area from Deer Lake involves a ferry flight across what I believe to be one of the most scenic areas on the continent, certainly in the area covered by the Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey …Gros Morne National Park. We concluded the Newfoundland survey at St. Anthony, and woke on May 30 to freezing fog and drizzle. While that sounds bad, it's just par for the course for spring in Atlantic Canada. We waited for the fog to lift into a low stratus before departing for Labrador and the final leg of our survey. A testament to the tenacity of the 2014 winter, the Strait of Belle Isle, which separates Newfoundland and Quebec/Labrador, remained clogged with heavy sea ice, much more ice than would be observed on a normal year. On the way to Goose Bay, Labrador, we surveyed several lines. Interior Labrador has enjoyed some relatively warm temps and sunny conditions in recent weeks, and despite the wintery conditions just to the south around St. Anthony, the wetlands and lakes of Labrador were largely ice free. We'll be surveying Labrador now for another 3 or 4 days before preparing to return home, and we'll provide a final update when we're wrapped up.

Coastal community on the Newfoundland east coast. Photo by Mark Koneff, USFWS

Iceberg, dead ahead! Photo by Mark Koneff, USFWS

Dramatic terrain of Gros Morne, National Park, Newfoundland. Photo by Mark Koneff, 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