How Do You Like Your Steak?

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Written by Stephen Earsom
Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Photo of Stephen D. Earsom.As the saying goes, what a difference a year makes! Last year my observer and I finished our surveys in southern Ontario and Quebec on 19 May. This year, due to some aircraft issues, we didn’t even start until 19 May. Unfortunately, that meant we arrived too late to collect data in some of southern areas of Ontario. In Strata 52, 53, and 54, the trees have unfurled their leaves, making it impossible to see into many of the smaller streams and wetlands where we often “pull out” singles and pairs. Unlike in some parts of Canada, the spring did not come late to southern Ontario, and we’ve been seeing a lot more kayaks and BBQ grills than ducks in those areas.

Given that, we’ve moved on to Quebec and are currently surveying Stratum 56, bounded on the west by the St. Lawrence River and the US border on the east. Though we’re still somewhere between medium-well and well-done for this stratum, the somewhat higher elevation means phenology is behind southern Ontario, and we’re still able to find birds. Habitat conditions so far seem good in the eastern parts of the stratum, but many ditches are dry as one moves west, and duck numbers seem well below last year.

If Stratum 53 were top sirloin, this is what

If Stratum 53 were top sirloin, this is what "well-done" would look like. The leaves are simply too far advanced to make data collection practicable. We've moved on to higher elevations in Quebec. Photo by Jim Wortham, USFWS