Maine and Atlantic Canada Survey Area Completed

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Written by Mark Koneff
Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Photo of Mark Koneff.Early in my flying career with the FWS, I recall sitting in a musty, dank hotel room in Ontario looking rather morosely out the window at low ceilings and drizzle. It happened to be about the 8th or 9th day straight, and I was beginning to lose patience. The seasoned pilot-biologist that I was with just chuckled and told me something to the effect of “don’t worry it’s just the weather, if you wait long enough it will change.” There was a lot of wisdom in the remark, and his attitude, that I failed to fully appreciate at the time. After many years of flying these surveys though (including 4 in Maine and Atlantic Canada with its notoriously poor weather), I understand. You don’t control the weather, so relax. There’s enough risk inherent in the job, and you don’t want impatience, a goal-oriented personality, or get-home-itis to drive you to decisions that take that risk to unacceptable levels. We had our share of lousy weather this year, but it’s fairly routine in the northeast in the spring. I thought periodically about the sage advice I received back then as we struggled along bit-by-bit through the Maritime Provinces and Newfoundland. Lo and behold though, after finally getting to Labrador, my mentor’s advice rang true again. Despite a gloomy public forecast when we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised by conditions over the next 5 days which gave us the break in the weather we needed to fairly quickly wrap the survey up, and do so with good timing in relation to breeding season phenology. We finished the survey on June 3, flying lines from Goose Bay, Labrador, to Wabush under sunny skies and relatively light winds. Overall, conditions across the survey area were good for breeding waterfowl, despite the late start to spring. With some more seasonal temperatures and drier conditions during the primary brood rearing period, the outlook could improve further. After fueling and taking a break in Wabush, we bored through a rather benign north-bound warm front and rain on the 4.5-hour ferry flight home to Bangor. Since we stay one step ahead of spring as we move north during the survey, it’s always good to see Maine leafed out on the return trip, and to look forward to the brief northern summer. 2014 is in the books…

Boreal lake and bog in Labrador.

Boreal lake and bog in Labrador. Photo by Mark Koneff, US FWS

Habitat along the southeast Labrador coast is within the breeding range of more arctic-nesting species such as the long-tailed duck.

Habitat along the southeast Labrador coast is within the breeding range of more arctic-nesting species such as the long-tailed duck. Photo by Mark Koneff, US FWS