- photo by Mike Checkett
The wet and cold spring has resulted in high water and prolonged freshet levels. Rarely have two consecutive days gone by when it has not rained.
Breeding populations of most waterfowl species remain stable. Numbers of green-winged teals, mergansers, ring-necked ducks and goldeneyes are hovering around the LTA, while mallards continue to increase. Some noticeable declines in black duck populations have been noted over the past few years.
Geese and early-breeding waterfowl were challenged by cold and rainy conditions early in the season. The first brood was observed nearly three weeks later than last year. Several nest box stewards reported delayed nesting attempts by goldeneyes on the Saint John River, even though they paired on time. If the weather warms up, this may improve reproductive success for ducks that initiated clutches late.
It has not been uncommon to see broods composed of only two young. In fact, the average brood size is likely three in parts of New Brunswick. This may be due to relentless rain and cold temperatures that were dipping below 0 C at nights until recently.
Waterfowl habitat is favourable, thanks to the rainfall and reduced evaporation. Though this may not be a great recruitment year for early nesters, it could be better for late nesters. Overall, habitat conditions are good in Atlantic Canada.