Record Water Levels; Record Duck Numbers

Written by Garnet Raven
Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Garnet RavenThe Alberta ground survey crew has been rolling full speed ahead since starting on May 8th. We completed two air-ground segments on the 8th, 3 on the 9th and finished up stratum 29 with a final segment on May 10th. Wetland conditions are better than have been seen in recent memory and all-time highs for duck numbers were observed on several of the air-ground segments. On May 10th we moved on to stratum 28 and found conditions were similarly impressive. Most members of the crew moved on to Hanna, Alberta, where we’ll be stationed for the next few days while we finish surveying stratum 28 and most of stratum 27. So far it looks like duck and pond numbers will continue to be well above average through the northern prairies and into the parklands.

I have been conducting this survey for 4 years now, and I have never seen moisture levels or duck numbers this high in this area. The high water is giving us some challenges with flooded roads and inaccessible portions of our air-ground survey routes. I believe we will be a busy group for the next couple weeks, but we’re all really excited about the fantastic conditions. Hopefully we’ll be setting records for duck numbers all survey long.

Mike Watmough surveying a challenging portion of the Bow Island air-ground southwest of Medicine Hat, Alberta.

Mike Watmough surveying a challenging portion of the Bow Island air-ground southwest of Medicine Hat, Alberta. Photo by Garnet Raven, Canadian Wildlife Service

Another challenging portion of the Bow Island air-ground.

Another challenging portion of the Bow Island air-ground. Photo by Garnet Raven, Canadian Wildlife Service

Murray Gillespie surveying impressive conditions on the Vulcan air-ground south of Calgary.

Murray Gillespie surveying impressive conditions on the Vulcan air-ground south of Calgary. Photo by Murray Gillespie

A pair of cinnamon teal observed on the Pakowki air-ground.

A pair of cinnamon teal observed on the Pakowki air-ground. Photo by Murray Gillespie

A Canada goose nesting in an old Ferruginous Hawk nest on the Cereal air-ground southeast of Hanna, Alberta.

A Canada goose nesting in an old Ferruginous Hawk nest on the Cereal air-ground southeast of Hanna, Alberta. Photo by Murray Gillespie