Good Ol' Stratum 54

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Written by Nick Wirwa
Friday, May 16, 2014

Photo of Nick Wirwa.As we finished up Stratum 54 this week, the conditions seem to be looking positive. Having never flown the Breeding Population Survey before, Stratum 54, the block that we were flying this week, was not what I was expecting to see. Flying over swimming pools, subdivisions, and power lines, I was asking myself what I was doing here. Given the mix of urban and agricultural landscapes in Stratum 54, I was quite surprised where mallards and Canada geese decide to make nests. As we flew over rock quarries, sediment ponds, golf courses and farm ponds, I was surprised to see as many ducks as we did utilizing these obscure, so-called wetlands. This made it clear to me that, although these are not pristine, untouched, and intact natural wetlands, these wetlands still are important, and they add value to waterfowl nesting habitat and other necessary wetland system functions. While protecting temporary prairie wetlands from being tilled, providing productive hemi-marshes, and enhancing grassland and vegetation buffers around potholes is critical, this observation made it clear to me the importance of water on the landscape in any shape, form, or fashion. Although yard ponds may not be what we think of when we picture duck nesting habitat, I learned that the small things add to the landscape and to waterfowl conservation as whole. With a great first week in the Kodiak and good conditions in Stratum 54, I am excited for another week ahead, and hopeful to see the good habitat conditions continue as we move across Ontario.

The Eastern Ontario crew's Kodiak plane, ready for flight.

The Eastern Ontario crew's Kodiak plane, ready for flight. Photo by Nick Wirwa, USFWS