Saskatchewan Ground Crew is On Again, Off Again

Written by Jean-Michel DeVink
Saturday, May 14, 2011

Photo of Jean-Michel DeVink.Along with each FWS survey crew in the southern Canadian prairies and in the US prairies surveyed during the May Breeding Waterfowl survey, there is a ground crew that counts waterfowl on segments of each flight transect. These segments are called air-ground comparison segments and are normally 18 miles long. Air-ground segments are used to correct the number of waterfowl observed from the air using what is actually counted on the ground, assuming that ground crews count all birds found on wetlands within the segment. Ground counts are typically conducted on the day following the air counts.

In Saskatchewan, there are three crews of three staff completing 36 air-ground segments. Typically, one crew is assigned to one transect each day, but some transects have high enough densities of ponds and ducks that two crews are required to complete the transect by the noon deadline. Our first day of ground counts was Monday the 9th, after air counts were delayed a day due to bad weather. The first transects were in the south-central part of the province, where conditions were good at the start of ground counts and ended with wind and blowing rain. Southeastern Saskatchewan typically has marginal weather in early May compared to the rest of the province, and ground counts there are frequently plagued by bad weather. Crews were stalled again on Tuesday when the plane couldn’t fly on Monday. The plane continued on Tuesday and the crews got their second transect done on Wednesday, though the plane again couldn’t fly due to poor conditions in Regina.

Overall, pond conditions in the south-central part of SK were good, with decent numbers of waterfowl, particularly blue-winged teal and northern shovelers. Spring is slightly delayed in the southern part of the province compared to areas further north due to a late snowstorm that struck southern SK on May 1st. Later this week we’ll run transects in the southwest.

SK Ground Crew, from left to right: Pat Bergen (DU Contractor), Keith Warner (CWS), Nicole Tchir (Student), Collin Holderness (Student), Daniel Routhier (Student), JM DeVink (CWS), Nathan Wiebe (DU Contractor), Kevin Dufour (CWS), Nat Astleford (DU Contractor).

SK Ground Crew, from left to right: Pat Bergen (DU Contractor), Keith Warner (CWS), Nicole Tchir (Student), Collin Holderness (Student), Daniel Routhier (Student), JM DeVink (CWS), Nathan Wiebe (DU Contractor), Kevin Dufour (CWS), Nat Astleford (DU Contractor). Photo by Jean-Michel DeVink, CWS

Nathan Wiebe assesses the water level of a roadside pond, and checks for waterfowl.

Nathan Wiebe assesses the water level of a roadside pond, and checks for waterfowl. Photo by Jean-Michel DeVink, CWS