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DU Canada Habitat Report - July 2011

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Alberta

Although the late spring was wet in southern areas, and dry in central and northern areas, most of the province experienced average to well-above-average rainfall in June. Showers and heavy thunderstorms continue to occur, which is maintaining water levels. May temperatures were slightly cooler than normal to average across the Prairie and Aspen Parkland, where frost was still occurring into early June. The Boreal Transition Zone (BTZ) and Peace Parkland experienced slightly warmer-than-normal temperatures in May.
In the southern Prairie, precipitation totals since April 1 have been over 100 to 200 percent of normal in the Calgary, Lethbridge, Milk River Ridge and Cypress Hills areas. Western areas received over 100 mm of rain in the last week of May, which led to some localized flooding.

The remainder of the area has received average to slightly-above-average precipitation. Temperatures have remained moderate, which is reducing evaporative losses.

In the northern Prairie, precipitation totals are average to slightly below average. Wetland conditions remain very good in this region, as well as in the southern Aspen Parkland, where southwestern areas have received average to slightly-above-average precipitation. In the Pine Lake and Buffalo Lake landscapes, seasonal and semi-permanent wetlands remain full and are often flooded into the willows. Further north, precipitation totals were less than 50 percent of normal through the end of May, but significant June rainfall recharged wetlands. Wetland conditions are now good to very good across the northern Aspen Parkland, including the Cooking Lake, Mundare and Viking moraines.

Although conditions in the BTZ were deteriorating in late May, subsequent rains have now recharged wetlands. Crops seeded in low areas are showing signs of excess moisture stress. Precipitation was less than 40 to 60 percent of average through to the end of May, but is now average to slightly above average. The Town of Slave Lake, portions of which were destroyed by a forest fire in May, received 60-80 mm of rain between June 23 and 26. Conditions are now rated as good across most of the BTZ.

The Peace Parkland is now rated as good to excellent, with the exception of some northern regions. Some areas received over 100 mm of rain in late May, and then 5-10 cm of snow in early June. The Grande Prairie area received 60-80 mm of rainfall during a June 23-26 storm event. While some larger basins remain slightly below full, recent recharge has vastly improved conditions.

Upland nesting habitat is in good to excellent condition across the agricultural zone. Wet conditions are delaying haying activity, which will enhance nesting success in hayfields. There have been increasing sightings of duck broods as the season progresses, and Canada goose goslings are almost fully feathered.

Aspen Parkland, Alberta

On the southern Alberta portion of the USFWS/CWS survey (includes the Prairie and Aspen Parkland), pond numbers are 60 per cent higher this year than they were in 2010, and are 47 per cent above the LTA. Duck numbers responded to this increase in wetland habitats, and total duck breeding population estimates increased by 66 per cent from 2010, and by 3 per cent compared to the LTA. Estimates indicate that most species of breeding populations have increased since last year.

The waterfowl production forecast for Alberta is above average in the Prairie, average in the Aspen Parkland and below average in the BTZ and Peace Parkland.

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