Southern Manitoba Survey Begins-Stratum 39 Almost Complete!

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Written by Sarah Yates
Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sarah YatesWe made it into Brandon, Manitoba, (our base for the next couple of weeks) on May 15th. We had some weather delays in Maine and it took a couple of windy days ferrying to Brandon from Maine. So, this is definitely the latest start in this survey area to date. However, the late winter in this region delayed the birds as well, so all is in good order. In fact, we were still seeing snow piles on our flight to Brandon from western Ontario, and western Ontario is still covered in ice! We did a short recon flight on the way into Brandon on the 15th to check our transect width and have a look at a few birds along the way. Seeing mostly pairs of birds made us feel a bit better about the late start. Later that day we took a drive to see more on the ground…again lots of paired up birds, so another good sign. We officially started the survey yesterday (May 16), flying three lines in stratum 39 and four air-grounds. It felt good to get my first survey day in the left seat out of the way. Today (May 17th) we almost completed stratum 39 and if the weather holds we’ll have one more day to complete 39 and move into southeastern Saskatchewan. Habitat conditions in Stratum 39 are mixed. We have observed good conditions along most of the lines. The northern lines of 39 seem to have a higher percentage of dry basins, but according to ground crew leader Mark Shuster, this is normal. There is no sheet water on the landscape, but major rivers and basins are full if not flooded.

Aerial view of the Assiniboine River.

Aerial view of the Assiniboine River. Photo by Sarah Yates, US FWS

Conditions seem to be dryer along northern transects.

Conditions seem to be dryer along northern transects. Photo by Sarah Yates, US FWS