New Crew Lends a Hand in Atlantic Canada

Written by John Bidwell
Friday, May 20, 2016

John BidwellI have come out of retirement as a Biologist Pilot to team up with fellow Biologist Pilot Brian Lubinski to help Mark Koneff complete the Maine and Atlantic Canada survey. We met with Mark in Bangor on May 18 to discuss logistics and timing for completing Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador. The weather has been perfect for surveying, clear skies and little wind that is expected to continue for several days. We departed for the Fredericton, New Brunswick airport to clear customs on the morning of May 19. Fredericton is one of several pilot training centers located in New Brunswick, consequently there tends to be lots of departure delays. After about an hour and a half on the ground we launched to complete the six segments on Prince Edward Island. Habitat conditions look good. Duck phenology and numbers appear normal. After Prince Edward Island, we flew to Moncton, New Brunswick for fuel and to suit up in survival suits for the 3-hour over water ferry flight north to Deer Lake Newfoundland. The Canadian helicopter survey just finished in Newfoundland, so timing should be perfect.

The survey continued on May 20 with the completion of the two transects along the south shore of Newfoundland and one transect on the Avalon Peninsula. Because of weather and the normal southerly flow off the Atlantic Ocean, these lines tend to be to challenging to complete. Locals say this past winter was mild so ice-out and spring thaw came early. There was no black ice on the interior transects and only minimal coverage at higher elevations along the western part of Newfoundland. Birds are well dispersed with predominately single observations for black ducks.

New Maine and Atlantic Canada crew. Brian Lubinski (left) and John Bidwell (right), ParteNavia N701. Photo Credit: John Bidwell, USFWS.

New Maine and Atlantic Canada crew. Brian Lubinski (left) and John Bidwell (right), ParteNavia N701. Photo Credit: John Bidwell, USFWS.

 Fredericton airport - off to survey Prince Edward Island Stratum 65. Photo Credit: John Bidwell, USFWS.

Fredericton airport - off to survey Prince Edward Island Stratum 65. Photo Credit: John Bidwell, USFWS.

Habitat conditions in Stratum 65 look good. Photo Credit: John Bidwell, USFWS.

Habitat conditions in Stratum 65 look good. Photo Credit: John Bidwell, USFWS.

Stratum 66 in Newfoundland - open water and wetland conditions are optimum for ducks. Photo Credit: John Bidwell, USFWS.

Stratum 66 in Newfoundland - open water and wetland conditions are optimum for ducks. Photo Credit: John Bidwell, USFWS.

Ice and snow are not a factor this spring in Stratum 66 in Newfoundland. Photo Credit: John Bidwell, USFWS.

Ice and snow are not a factor this spring in Stratum 66 in Newfoundland. Photo Credit: John Bidwell, USFWS.

The locals call this portion of Stratum 66 in Newfoundland the Rock. Photo Credit: John Bidwell, USFWS.

The locals call this portion of Stratum 66 in Newfoundland the Rock. Photo Credit: John Bidwell, USFWS.