Northern Saskatchewan/Manitoba Wrap-Up

Written by Walt Rhodes
Monday, June 13, 2016

Walt RhodesDespite weeks of fits and starts we wrapped up the survey about the same time as usual. The delays combined with the very early ice-out this spring had us humping to stay on schedule biologically, but we managed to finish on 3 June. Further proof about spring timing was once we were in Stratum 24 in northern Manitoba flocks of molt-migrant temperate-breeding Canada geese from points farther south were seen streaming north, which is where and when we usually begin to see them.

Overall, things are probably as well as can be expected for this year. Boreal wetland conditions continue to suggest a slow, continual drying, evident by their toilet-bowl-ring appearance, yet the early thaw and no detrimental storms during the breeding period bode well for the production that has taken place. Once again, there did seem to be some degree of an overflight.

Smoke seems to be a given on the survey, but the Ft. McMurray fire made it particularly troublesome. We had to skip two transects that were mostly in the restricted airspace for fire-suppression efforts once the fire crossed the Saskatchewan/Alberta border. And despite breezes from favorable directions, the smoke just seemed to hang in there, probably a testament to the enormity of the blaze. Since the airport remained closed, we did not get to see some friends. Next year it will be interesting to hear their stories as well as see how much habitat was affected.

The Ft. McMurray fire on 24 May, shortly after it crossed the border into Saskatchewan.  The towering smoke and heat makes it very easy to see how a fire of this size can create its own weather. Photo Credit: Walt Rhodes, USFWS.

The Ft. McMurray fire on 24 May, shortly after it crossed the border into Saskatchewan. The towering smoke and heat makes it very easy to see how a fire of this size can create its own weather. Photo Credit: Walt Rhodes, USFWS.