Ground Crews begin surveying southern Saskatchewan

Written by Dan Nieman
Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dan Nieman (CWS Population Management Biologist Saskatchewan)The Southern Saskatchewan crew area is very large, and the ground surveys use three crews of three people. Our first task prior to the survey is to meet with our pilot biologist, Phil Thorpe, and his observer biologist, Patrick Devers, to determine if nesting has progressed enough to begin the survey, and to review and familiarize new staff with the pond classification process. This ensures consistency in our counting methodology.

After finishing that work this past week, we began the survey in earnest this morning out of Swift Current, Saskatchewan. Water in the southern grasslands appears very good from what we’ve seen so far, although it is much drier in the northern grasslands. It has been a late spring, and farming activity is way behind the normal schedule.  As of last week, less than 5% of seeding was complete. Unfortunately, many nests that have already been established in ag fields will be destroyed during the planting operations.  That will impact pintails, in particular, as they often nest in crop stubble and that is where we have found most of the nests so far. We are seeing a lot of pintails in this portion of the survey area, and hopefully some of them will re-nest if their first clutches are destroyed, although they tend not to renest as often as some other species. Cultivation of these areas will have a negative impact on their productivity this year.

(From left to right)  Mark Oliver (CWS), Dan Nieman (CWS), Phyllis Nieman (DUC), Dayne Wikinson (CWS), Keith Warner (CWS), Jenn Leslie (CWS), Nathan Weibe (DUC), Kevin Dufour (CWS) and Pat Bergen (CWS).