Southern Saskatchewan Survey Complete!

Written by Phil Thorpe
Friday, May 18, 2012

Photo of Phil Thorpe.Sarah and I finished up the 2012 survey today. The forecasters were a little optimistic on their printed forecast and some weather early on required some in-flight planning and re-routing, but we got the last transects done. We had ideal survey conditions with cloud cover (clouds help eliminate sun glare that can make species identification difficult) and calm winds.

Overall, the survey got off to a slow start this year because of weather, but once we got moving we had a nice stretch of flying days. Conditions were better than I expected. My research before the survey showed precipitation maps bright red, indicating dry conditions. Jean-Michel DeVink, a colleague with the Canadian Wildlife Service that I work with during the survey, wrote up an excellent summary of conditions and I suggest reading his May 24 log contribution located within this survey area discussion.

The western Aspen parklands have continued to dry out, and generally are in fair condition with areas near the Alberta border that are approaching poor. The area needs some replenishing rains to maintain water levels for brood rearing later in the summer. The eastern parklands have better habitat conditions, both uplands and wetlands benefited from April snow and rain. Water levels in many areas are high and have flooded out of wetland basins. This should provide good brood habitat and I would expect fair to good waterfowl production from the northeastern Aspen Parklands.

So, I’m back in the office now, and while glad to be home, after only a week in the office I am pining to get back out of the office. I will have to wait until I go back up to Saskatchewan in August for duck banding to fulfill that wish. Everyone enjoy their summer.

Although upland nesting cover was sparse, wetlands had good water levels in the northern Aspen Parklands.

Although upland nesting cover was sparse, wetlands had good water levels in the northern Aspen Parklands. Photo by Phil Thorpe, USFWS

Long header bars attached to tractors allow farmers to work wetlands well into the center of the basin.

Long header bars attached to tractors allow farmers to work wetlands well into the center of the basin. Photo by Phil Thorpe, USFWS

Water levels were high in the northeastern Aspen Parklands. This area received 10-14 inches of wet snow in early April further improving wetland conditions for ducks.

Water levels were high in the northeastern Aspen Parklands. This area received 10-14 inches of wet snow in early April further improving wetland conditions for ducks. Photo by Phil Thorpe, USFWS

Wetland drainage in the northeastern Aspen Parklands.

Wetland drainage in the northeastern Aspen Parklands. Photo by Phil Thorpe, USFWS