Survey Begins in Western Ontario/Northern Quebec

Written by Jim Wortham
Friday, May 18, 2012

Jim Wortham.Our crew consists of Jim Wortham, Chief of the Migratory Bird Surveys Branch and Dr. Scott Boomer of the Population and Habitat Assessment Branch. We have been flying surveys in Ontario and Quebec for the past eight years and have seen many changes in yearly habitat conditions and bird response to these areas.

We launched for Ontario on May 6th. Along the way, we descended to survey Stratum 55 in northern New York state before crossing over to Canada and clearing Customs in Ottawa. After repositioning to Kapuskasing, Ontario, we began surveying western Ontario, which initially requires flying an east-west line beginning near Hearst and terminating near the Manitoba border.

Conditions thus far are as we expected, with wetlands appearing drier than normal, but with good waterfowl presence on the more permanent lakes and beaver marshes. The first day of surveys was extremely calm, resulting in mirror-like conditions on Lake Nipigon (the large lake north of Lake Superior), and from the air we could see small flocks of diving ducks staging as they made their way still northward. These observations, combined with the amount of pairs and lone drakes that we found, indicate that our timing will be nearly perfect in this stratum.

Jim Wortham (L) and Scott Boomer: “The Penn and Teller of Waterfowl Surveys.”

Jim Wortham (L) and Scott Boomer: “The Penn and Teller of Waterfowl Surveys.” Photo by Jim Wortham, USFWS

Sneak peek at the cockpit of the Kodiak.

Sneak peek at the cockpit of the Kodiak. Photo by Jim Wortham, USFWS

Preparing for another day at the office.

Preparing for another day at the office. Photo by Jim Wortham, USFWS