Survey Complete in Southern Ontario/Southern Quebec

Written by Thom Lewis
Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thom LewisThe weather cooperated and we were only grounded by rain on one afternoon. We flew to Ottawa on Monday and then flew transects for seven straight days. We head home tomorrow and if the weather permits, John will be home on time. We certainly appreciate him taking time out of his busy schedule to help us complete this important survey. I also appreciate getting the opportunity to fly and learn from John as my pilot training nears completion.

Overall, the habitat conditions across our survey area were uniformly good. All wetland types (rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, bogs and muskeg) were for the most part full. The abundant water should persist and provide ample habitat for females to raise young. Spring was evident over the entire area with snow and ice confined to higher elevations and more northern areas. Even where there was ice on lakes the edges had thawed providing places for waterfowl use. We saw large concentrations of snow geese along the St. Lawrence River staging before heading north to breed and many small flocks of Canada geese, some of which would likely continue north to breed. We saw many lone drakes, pairs, and a few groups of flocked drakes that suggest the timing of the survey was good to get an estimate of the breeding population. Based on the habitat conditions and waterfowl present, I expect good to excellent production from our survey area, but we have to wait for the data analysis to know more precisely how things are going to shake out.

Fog prevented us from surveying over the river.  Our statisticians will remove this partial segment from the analysis.

Fog prevented us from surveying over the river. Our statisticians will remove this partial segment from the analysis. Photo by Thomas Lewis, US FWS

Some ice was still hanging in there at higher altitudes even in the southern portions of the survey area.  Ducks will still settle in to breed along the ice free margins.

Some Ice was still hanging in there at higher altitudes even in the southern portions of the survey area. Ducks will still settle in to breed along the ice free margins. Photo by Thomas Lewis, US FWS

Team

Team "SE ONT/S QUE" in full survey PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) required for low-level surveys. Photo by Thomas Lewis, US FWS

Some unique wetlands that provide little breeding habitat for waterfowl in Southern Quebec.

Some unique wetlands that provide little breeding habitat for waterfowl in Southern Quebec. Photo by Thomas Lewis, US FWS

Most wetlands had plenty of water this year providing good habitat for waterfowl production.

Most wetlands had plenty of water this year providing good habitat for waterfowl production. Photo by Thomas Lewis, US FWS

Timber production is important economically in Quebec and it is amazing how far away from civilization you will see clear cuts.

Timber production is important economically in Quebec and it is amazing how far away from civilization you will see clear cuts. Photo by Thomas Lewis, US FWS

Most lakes were full and in many cases the emergent vegetation was flooded.

Most lakes were full and in many cases the emergent vegetation was flooded. Photo by Thomas Lewis, US FWS

Most rivers were flowing strongly through out our survey area.

Most rivers were flowing strongly through out our survey area. Photo by Thomas Lewis, US FWS

Even in the far north wetland draining is used to improve conditions for agriculture.  In this case timber production was the commodity being enhanced.  However, it certainly has a negative impact on hydrology and wetlands.

Even in the far north wetland draining is used to improve conditions for agriculture. In this case timber production was the commodity being enhanced. However, it certainly has a negative impact on hydrology and wetlands. Photo by Thomas Lewis, US FWS

Electric generation and transfer is economically important in Quebec.  However, even in wilderness areas the power lines create serious hazards to aviation and we must stay vigilant at all times while flying low level.

Electric generation and transfer is economically important in Quebec. However, even in wilderness areas the power lines create serious hazards to aviation and we must stay vigilant at all times while flying low level. Photo by Thomas Lewis, US FWS

Higher elevation still had residual snow and ice, but most margins had thawed for waterfowl.

Higher elevation still had residual snow and ice, but most margins had thawed for waterfowl. Photo by Thomas Lewis, US FWS

I thought this wetland from a Birds-Eye-View was very interesting.

I thought this wetland from a Birds-Eye-View was very interesting. Photo by Thomas Lewis, US FWS