Breeding Grounds Survey: Beginning the Ungava Survey

June 14, 2014 - Ungava Peninsula
By Steve Earsom, USFWS biologist, Ungava Peninsula

The light frames the dark curtains in my room. I groggily roll over to check my watch, thinking it must be about time to get up. 3:30AM. Whaa? Oh yeah, I'm in Nunavik.

So began this year's Ungava survey for me. After a quick weekend at home upon completing the May BPOP survey, I traveled commercially to Bangor, Maine, to pick up N723, which had been undergoing routine maintenance. Mark Koneff graciously loaned me some gear and made suggestions—leave the anchor, take tie-downs, leave the tow bar, take another spare tire—and I was off to Wabush, Newfoundland, clearing customs and picking up my observer in Sept Iles.

I'm taking over the survey from Mark, since his promotion to Branch Chief requires him to be in the office a bit more. We're also making the transition to a two-person survey crew. Instead of serving as a pilot with two observers onboard, we'll do this survey as we do most others—one pilot/observer in the left seat, and a second observer in the right seat. We'll use a third, back seat observer later in the survey, and compare my data with his on those days to establish a visual correction factor, or VCF. This then allows a more seamless transition when comparing data sets from year to year.

Remnant sea ice. Photo by Steve Earsom USFWS

Melting ice. Photo by Steve Earsom USFWS

Get more information about the 2014 BPOP Survey and other waterfowl surveys at

Find more breeding waterfowl and habitat updates on the DU Habitat Map