Engine Dies, Delays Start in Western Ontario

Written by Jim Wortham
Monday, May 25, 2009

Photo of Jim Wortham.My observer Scott Boomer and I got off to a late survey start in 2009 due both to the delayed spring conditions, but also to an aircraft engine being pronounced dead after only 1.7 hours of use. An alternate aircraft was arranged, and we entered Canada on 16 May to find that spring conditions had caught up and birds were paired and distributed across the landscape. We surveyed the area between the 18th and 24th of May with only a few days lost to snow storms. Larger, deeper lakes in the northern areas were still frozen shore to shore, but virtually all other water bodies were open. Nightly freezes resulted in some skim ice on the smaller wetlands through the morning hours.

Habitat conditions are good to excellent, with the only draw-back being the late thaw. All wetlands were fully charged, offering an abundance of emergent vegetation for nesting cover. Rivers and creeks were characterized by high water levels with some swelling out of their banks. In addition, the snowpack remains deep in the timber areas of the northern and central areas of the stratum, which will continue to supply melt water while possibly hindering movement of some land-based predators. Dominant species encountered were ringed-necked ducks, common goldeneyes, and mergansers, with mallards close behind. Only a few observations were made of larger groups of more northern nesting species like scoters or scaup waiting to progress northward.

Because northern Quebec is still frozen, the survey crew will travel from here to the north shore of the St. Lawrence to survey Anticosti Island and extreme eastern Quebec. Check back for more reports from these areas.

Some opening ice margins on Big Trout Lake, Ontario on 22 May 2009. Credit: Scott Boomer.