Hockey Season Extended!

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Written by Steve Earsom
Friday, May 16, 2014

Photo of Stephen D. Earsom.The bitterly cold winter allowed hockey fanatics a few more games on their favorite lakes this spring in southern Ontario. I’m used to seeing Lake Simcoe, north of Toronto, ice-free a week to 10 days before wheels-up, and yet that patch stayed white on NOAA’s ice cover map until a day or so before we left, despite the snow being long gone. Seeing big chunks of ice flowing out of Lake Erie and over Niagara Falls as we flew north didn’t give me a warm fuzzy, either. However, our reconnaissance flights confirmed the ducks were ready to go, and the lone mallard to pair ratio is right on as we summarize our data from Stratum 54.

The habitat also looks fantastic. Most wetlands and streams are full without being flooded, and with lots of sheet water around. If you squint your eyes you might think you were in the Prairie Potholes instead of southern Ontario. The early call is that habitat quality will not be a limiting factor for waterfowl production this year.

Ice on Lake Huron near Wiarton, Ontario, 09 May 2014.

Ice on Lake Huron near Wiarton, Ontario, 09 May 2014. Photo by Nick Wirwa, USFWS