Habitat Conditions in Maine and the Atlantic Provinces Variable

Written by Mark Koneff
Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Photo of Mark Koneff.Across the Maine and Atlantic crew area it was a fairly normal winter with snow pack running about average or just below average. As for much of the northern tier of the U.S., spring was slow in coming to Maine, particularly in the higher elevations and across northern parts of the state. Flying conditions during the late winter and early spring where poor, with reduced ceilings and visibilities and high winds, though curiously little precipitation. A couple of weeks of fair skies and warm temperatures in late April advanced the spring phenology and waterfowl breeding efforts in the southern portions of the crew area. At the time of the survey in Maine, wetland habitats across the state were suffering from lack of spring precipitation, particularly so in western and northern regions. Drier than normal conditions also prevailed across the Canadian Maritime provinces during the survey period. Heavy rains during May recharged wetlands and caused local flooding, which may have destroyed some nests. Habitat conditions throughout Newfoundland and Labrador where generally good. Spring was early, but prolonged periods of rain and snow, especially in western Newfoundland and Labrador, may have taken a toll on early nesting efforts. Aircraft maintenance issues prevented us from surveying the Canadian portion of our crew area; fortunately, however, we routinely combine survey data collected by the USFWS and Canadian Wildlife Service to produce population estimates for this crew area and we still have access to our Canadian partners’ data. While this will not provide us as complete a picture of waterfowl populations in the crew area this year, we should have adequate sample coverage to bridge this year until we can return to full operational strength next season.

Lack of spring rains have led to dry conditions in northern Maine.

Lack of spring rains have led to dry conditions in northern Maine. Photo by Mark Koneff, US FWS

Still more dry ponds observed in northern Maine.

Still more dry ponds observed in northern Maine. Photo by Mark Koneff, US FWS

With limited precipitation, lakes in northern Maine are not as full as usual this time of year.

With limited precipitation, lakes in northern Maine are not as full as usual this time of year. Photo by Mark Koneff, US FWS

More effects of dry conditions in Maine at the time of the survey.

More effects of dry conditions in Maine at the time of the survey. Photo by Mark Koneff, US FWS