Video clip: See how it looks from the cockpit

Written by Thom Lewis
Friday, May 14, 2010

Thom Lewis

I hope this video gives you a perspective of what we see while counting waterfowl on survey transect. We fly “low and slow” by aviation standards, but at 90 knots you have to be constantly scanning the survey area to locate, count and identify waterfowl within the transect boundary. We count all waterfowl within 200 meters on both sides of the plane. You will notice black stripes on the aircraft wing strut. We use a clinometer to set these marks as a guide to how far out we count when at survey altitude. At 150 feet above the ground, when you look out the window, the bottom strip corresponds to 100 meters and the top is set at 200 meters. It’s simple geometry, but an effective way to make sure we count only waterfowl and wetlands that are within the survey sample area. In this video you probably won’t see the two pairs of Canada Geese that I counted, but if you listen closely you will hear me say “Canadas a pair” once about mid-lake and once as we go past the houses. The first pair was near the marsh grass and the second pair near the houses. This video is typical for Southern Ontario and shows the juxtaposition where waterfowl have to share habitat with humans. In this case the lake had good marshland habitat for the geese and a nice view and other amenities for the humans. A few other video clips and a lot of photos from other survey crews can be found in the links to the right.

A lake on line with marsh on one side and houses on the other where Thom saw two pairs of Canada Geese.
Video by Thomas Lewis/USFWS.