Up Days, Down Days: Chasing the Spring - Part 1

Written by Joe Sands
Friday, May 08, 2015

Photo of Joe Sands.Snowing in Lethbridge this morning. Visibility and ceiling decreasing. Conditions are poor for flying so there will be no duck counting today. We call this a down day. Survey crews use down days to catch up on work from their home stations (in my case, Region 1 Migratory Birds), perhaps pay a few bills, work out, and finally get a chance to do laundry. Typical biologist work isn’t as exciting as counting birds. Catch-up work consists of emails and phone calls, paper reviews, and some writing/working on publications long past due. Though not exciting, this work is very important. It allows us to continue to work with partners to implement conservation projects, continue the cooperative process of managing migratory waterfowl populations within Flyways, and maintain a strong connection to science, which is necessary for the success of the first two items.

Usually, down days are only one or two days at a time, though I’ve experienced a week straight before: one whole week waiting to finish two days worth of surveying. After several days down you can get a little stir crazy. Hotel rooms shrink inward and the Weather Channel fills in the background noise, an endless loop of forecasts; predictions that you follow closely and hopefully, despite the gloom outside the window.

Spring snowstorms usually mean down days for flight crews during the Breeding Waterfowl Survey. Photo Credit: Joe Sands, USFWS

Spring snowstorms usually mean down days for flight crews during the Breeding Waterfowl Survey. Photo Credit: Joe Sands, USFWS