On Your Mark, Get Set...

Written by Phil Thorpe
Friday, May 10, 2013

Photo of Phil Thorpe.We spent today driving south of Regina and tallying all ducks that we saw. After a few hours, the sample size got big enough that we could get an idea of species composition and social groupings. We came up with all species accounted for and early nesting species like mallards and pintails split with about 50% lone drakes and 50% pairs. This split is one of the indicators that we use to determine survey timing. Other indicators that we look for are presence and social groupings of blue-winged teal and gadwall. Blue-wings were present in good numbers and were common on our drive into the Missouri Coteau. This area is more of a breeding area for local ducks rather than some of the larger water bodies frequented by northern migrants. We observed most of the blue-wings in pairs and “spares,” meaning a pair and an extra lone drake. This is normal for them at this time since they nest a little later than mallards and pintails. Gadwall were also present in pairs and small groups. They are another late nester and many times can be seen in larger groups, along with wigeon during the early part of the survey. Their presence in the Coteau also indicates that these were probably local breeders. The survey sample that we collected along with observations taken during two reconnaissance flights all indicated that we should start the survey even though some of the habitat was still 2 weeks behind normal. Our plan is to start on May 11th.

We estimated 300,000-500,00 light geese still south of Regina. Another new experience for me.

We estimated 300,000-500,00 light geese still south of Regina. Another new experience for me. Photo by Phil Thorpe, USFWS