The Survey has begun in Alaska – conditions dry

Written by Ed Mallek
Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Photo of Ed Mallek.My observer Debbie Groves and I started the 2010 Alaska-Yukon waterfowl breeding population survey on 14 May. We arrived at Anchorage, Alaska, on the 14th and prepared the aircraft for the survey. The aircraft recently received routine maintenance and needed a “post-maintenance flight” prior to departing. This is 34th year that our highly modified Turbine Beaver airplane has been used on the survey. The post-maintenance flight went well and we were cleared to begin the survey. We planned on departing from Anchorage on the morning of 15 May, but we were delayed for a day due to adverse weather conditions in the survey area (Copper River Delta near Cordova). We departed Anchorage on 16 May and completed the survey on the Copper River Delta and remained overnight in Cordova. We departed Cordova the following morning (17 May) and flew to Kenai for fuel. After fueling up at the Kenai airport we flew the “Kenai-Susitna” portion of the survey. This survey area includes the northern portion of the Kenai Peninsula and the lower portion of the Susitna River drainage. Upon completion of the Kenai-Susitna area we flew directly to Fairbanks.

Up to this point the survey is going well and as planned. The interior of Alaska is very dry this spring due to little winter snowfall and below average spring rainfall. These dry conditions will probably not affect waterfowl numbers and nesting effort. However, if this dry trend continues for very long, wildfires could make survey conditions difficult due to smoke.