Spring Late but Conditions Look Good in Maine and Atlantic Canada

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Written by Mark Koneff
Monday, May 05, 2014

Photo of Mark Koneff.Well, It’s that time of year again. Maine has endured a pretty harsh winter, but despite a late start, spring is finally in the air and we’re preparing for another breeding waterfowl survey of Maine and Atlantic Canada. My observer this year is Randy Mickley, a biologist and wildlife disease specialist with the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service—Wildlife Services Program. Randy has worked collaboratively with the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Northeast Region, and is currently involved in efforts to understand and better manage a recently identified orthomyxovirus in Common Eiders. Our survey will start in Maine and progress through the Canadian Maritime Provinces into Newfoundland, concluding in Labrador.

December was colder and snowier than normal through our survey Region. January, however, saw a number of thaws and periods of heavy rain or mixed precipitation. This, combined with frozen ground, led to local flooding events. Early spring has brought normal to above normal precipitation in Maine and the Maritimes and normal to below-normal precipitation throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. Soil moisture indices are near normal across the region as of early spring, in contrast with drier conditions that prevailed in Maine and the Maritimes at this time last year.

Since January, temperatures across the region have been colder than normal, with Maine experiencing the coldest March on record. Early spring temperatures have resulted in a gradual thawing, though some ice jamming and flooding is prevalent in Maine and New Brunswick. Spring phenology is later than in recent years.

Despite this slightly later start, habitats across the region are expected to be in good condition for waterfowl. We look forward to getting started and will provide periodic updates on conditions as we move north.

Pilot-Biologist, Mark Koneff, USFWS (left) and Observer Randy Mickley, USDA (right) pose with the Quest Kodiak Survey Aircraft.

Pilot-Biologist, Mark Koneff, USFWS (left) and Observer Randy Mickley, USDA (right) pose with the Quest Kodiak Survey Aircraft. Photo by Mark Koneff, US FWS