Just Like That, It's Over

Written by Phil Thorpe
Saturday, May 21, 2016

Photo of Phil Thorpe.We finished the survey on Friday, 20 May and the ground crew finished up the next day to finalize the 2016 Southern Saskatchewan Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey. This is the first time in my memory that the ground crew will have Monday off for their long weekend, a nice bonus for them.

Overall, upland and wetland habitat conditions did improve as we surveyed north and there was no shortage of water in the Allan Hills, southeast of Saskatoon, or in the landscape east of Saskatoon. In general, while the northwest Parklands were drier, they were still in good shape for duck broods. Areas on the north side of the survey unit were in excellent condition for waterfowl production and recruitment. While some species estimates will be down in the Southern SK survey unit, it is far too early to tell whether the population estimates for those species will be down overall. Only after all survey units are completed and numbers crunched will we know the complete picture for the 2016 waterfowl breeding population estimate. All in all, not a bad year for ducks in Saskatchewan, and although grassland wetlands are going through a dry cycle, Parkland wetlands still have a ways to go before they go dry, so I'd expect good production and recruitment out of the Parklands this year. Another different year in the prairies.

Wetlands flooded outside of their basins are still common in the northeast Parklands. Photo Credit: Phil Thorpe, USFWS.

Wetlands flooded outside of their basins are still common in the northeast Parklands. Photo Credit: Phil Thorpe, USFWS.

Still good conditions for waterfowl. Photo Credit: Stephen Chandler, USFWS.

Still good conditions for waterfowl. Photo Credit: Stephen Chandler, USFWS.

Where's all that water go?  Photo Credit: Phil Thorpe, USFWS.

Where's all that water go? Photo Credit: Phil Thorpe, USFWS.

Even with below normal precipitation received over the winter, water levels still rose in the Quill Lake complex.  Photo Credit: Phil Thorpe, USFWS.

Even with below normal precipitation received over the winter, water levels still rose in the Quill Lake complex. Photo Credit: Phil Thorpe, USFWS.

The old shoreline of Little Quill. Photo Credit; Phil Thorpe, USFWS.

The old shoreline of Little Quill. Photo Credit; Phil Thorpe, USFWS.

The road connecting the hamlet of Quill Lake and Wynyard, SK has had to be repaired and raised several times during the last 10+ years since water levels in the Quills began to rise.  It was closed again this spring for repairs.  Mud or Middle Quill Lake, is long gone having been absorbed into Little Quill. Photo Credit: Phil Thorpe, USFWS.

The road connecting the hamlet of Quill Lake and Wynyard, SK has had to be repaired and raised several times during the last 10+ years since water levels in the Quills began to rise. It was closed again this spring for repairs. Mud or Middle Quill Lake, is long gone having been absorbed into Little Quill. Photo Credit: Phil Thorpe, USFWS.

Still lots of water in the southern Saskatchewan crew area.  Photo Credit: Phil Thorpe, USFWS.

Still lots of water in the southern Saskatchewan crew area. Photo Credit: Phil Thorpe, USFWS.

The Northwest Territories and Northern Saskatchewan survey aircraft on the ramp in Regina. Photo Credit: Phil Thorpe, USFWS.

The Northwest Territories and Northern Saskatchewan survey aircraft on the ramp in Regina. Photo Credit: Phil Thorpe, USFWS.

Drawn down wetlands near the Alberta border.  Photo Credit: Phil Thorpe, USFWS.

Drawn down wetlands near the Alberta border. Photo Credit: Phil Thorpe, USFWS.