Final Thoughts on the 2012 BPOP

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Written by Stephen D. Earsom
Saturday, June 02, 2012

Photo of Stephen D. Earsom.My part of the 57th annual breeding population and habitat survey is now complete. We covered almost 9,000 miles in 17 days of flying, overnighted in 13 places and nearly shook our eye teeth loose in the process. While clouds and precipitation did little to slow us down this year – I even had to take a mandatory rest day because the string of good weather we had – there was no shortage of winds and turbulence. We had to discontinue surveys a couple of times due to winds, and even changed our destination one day due to unfavorable conditions at our planned landing site. Generally, though, we contended with shakes and bumps that, while uncomfortable at times, were still safe and within our operating procedures.

The habitat was not as good as last year in the locations we surveyed, but still, only northeast of Chibougamau would I hazard an estimate of “fair.” Everywhere else was good or excellent, and breeding populations appear similar or perhaps slightly above last year. We’ll see when the final numbers come out.

I can’t close out this year’s final entry without saying thanks to a number of folks. First, Craig and Linda Williams at Camp Anjigami saved us several days of down time with a simple act of kindness. When our apparatus that provides automated flight following quit working in midflight, I thought we were going to be stuck while a new unit was shipped from remote New Zealand to remote northern Ontario. Instead, Craig, a pilot himself, loaned us his unit at no charge and for as long as we needed it. Shawn and Valerie Popkie at White Pines graciously opened their “not yet open” cottages for us, and Shawn went out of his way to ensure the Kodiak was well secured before a thunderstorm. The tower controllers at Chicoutimi airport efficiently and professionally routed an urgent phone call to me; Jim Wortham and Walt Rhodes also helped track me down. Finally, thanks to Emily Silverman, Guthrie Zimmerman and Kathy Fleming, who work behind the scenes to ensure we have the map data we need before going to the field, check the data we submit for errors, and perform the statistical wizardry needed to help develop the final population estimates.

By the way, if any readers have questions or topics they’d like me to discuss in future surveys, please feel free to email me. Until next time...!