Survey Gremlins Return, Again

Written by Jim Bredy
Thursday, May 23, 2013

Photo of Jim Bredy.The survey gremlins are always out there, just waiting for a chance to bite you. We had an incredible start, flying 10 of 11 days. But in my 26 years of flying surveys up here, I have never failed to get bitten by at least one gremlin every year. It was just a matter of timeā€¦ until we were attacked by a wolf-pack of them last Saturday. It started with stiff throttle cables, which a mechanic was able to lube and fix. Then it was food poisoning for both of us. And now an unsettled weather pattern has set in with winds gusting to over 30 knots the last several days, with no immediate relief in sight. We do not fly with strong winds for a multitude of reasons, primarily because it just is not safe to do so while flying low to the ground.

We still have 3 full days of flying left. We did however finish the Southern Alberta portion of our survey area (strata 26-29) before the delays began. Our raw pond counts continued to improve over last year in the aspen parkland regions between Red Deer, Edmonton and Lloydminster. The larger wetland basins, such as Beaverhill Lake east of Edmonton, are taking longer to fully recover from the drought of the last decade. Our raw ducks counts are also up. We will however have to wait for the duck and pond official estimates, until the ground crew counts are tallied, and used by the data analyzers to correct for what we do not see from the air.

Stay tuned. We will fly when we can, but ONLY when it is safe to do so.

Beaverhill Lake was once a mecca for waterfowl. It is approximately 10 miles long by 5 miles wide and is located approximately 30 mile east of Edmonton, Alberta. The prolonged drought of the last decade turned this once great marsh into a dry lakebed. Recent moisture has helped to bring some water back. Once significant moisture returns after a drought period, the smaller wetlands in the short-grass prairie and the aspen-parkland regions have the ability to recover quickly. However, it will take a prolonged period of significant moisture before this once great marsh returns to the glory years of its past.

Beaverhill Lake was once a mecca for waterfowl. It is approximately 10 miles long by 5 miles wide and is located approximately 30 mile east of Edmonton, Alberta. The prolonged drought of the last decade turned this once great marsh into a dry lakebed. Recent moisture has helped to bring some water back. Once significant moisture returns after a drought period, the smaller wetlands in the short-grass prairie and the aspen-parkland regions have the ability to recover quickly. However, it will take a prolonged period of significant moisture before this once great marsh returns to the glory years of its past. Photo by Jay Hitchcock, US FWS