Done on the Ground in Alberta

Written by Garnet Raven
Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Photo of Garnet Raven.The Alberta ground survey crew was able to finish our last transect today. While surveying the parklands we found fewer ponds than last year, but more ducks. That was actually the trend throughout most of the survey. Although it was significantly dryer than last year, the ducks were still around in good numbers. As expected, good production last year combined with decent habitat conditions this spring has set the table for another good fall flight. All we need now is enough moisture throughout the rest of the spring and summer to provide adequate nesting and brood-rearing habitat.

Our air crew pilot Jim Bredy and observer Jay Hitchcock continued surveying up through the boreal transition zone north of Edmonton and then up to the Peace country. They found relatively dry conditions, like was observed in that area last year. However, again duck numbers were higher than expected; further indicating that good production on the prairies can benefit surrounding areas the following year.

In general, habitat conditions throughout the province can only be considered fair to good. However, observed duck numbers would have to be labeled as good to excellent, since they are very comparable to last year. How duck production turns out this year is yet to be determined, but there is definitely potential for another great year if the habitat conditions are sustained. In the words of the Albertan singer-songwriter Ian Tyson: “Just give me clear blue skies and 18 inches of rain.” Is that so much to ask?

A semi-permanent wetland on the Sedgewick air-ground. How many species can you see?

A semi-permanent wetland on the Sedgewick air-ground. How many species can you see? Credit: Murray Gillespie, Ducks Unlimited Canada

American Avocets observed on the Clandonald air-ground.

American Avocets observed on the Clandonald air-ground. Credit: Kim Jones, Canadian Wildlife Service

A seasonal wetland holding water on the Coronation air-ground in the southern Alberta parklands.

A seasonal wetland holding water on the Coronation air-ground in the southern Alberta parklands. Credit: Murray Gillespie, Ducks Unlimited Canada