Beautiful Weather

Important Notice: will be shutting down on January 2, 2019. However, most of the content found here will now be available on the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Program website.

Written by Steve Earsom
Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Photo of Stephen D. Earsom.We survey crews can be an odd bunch sometimes. Everybody knows that beautiful weather means sunny skies, maybe a light breeze, say around 80 degrees, right? Nope. For us on surveys, there are two kinds of beautiful weather.

First, there’s surveying weather, where yes, we’d like light winds, but a pretty cool day, and a high overcast. Not really beach weather, but it results in good aircraft performance and not too much sweating for the crew, while the overcast skies minimize glare and make it easier to identify waterfowl.

Then there’s the really beautiful weather – fog so thick you can cut it with a knife, gusty winds, and pick your temperature ‘cause it really doesn’t matter. Now that isn’t great for surveying, but it is perfect when your plane is in for maintenance and you’re due for a mandatory rest day anyway. When we can’t fly, I want our entire crew area to be in the soup! And that’s what Nick and I have had the last couple of days here in Bangor, Maine.

We arrived Sunday night after a run of good survey weather. We’ve completed two strata in Ontario (#54 and #53), and are well into the stratum that lies between the US border and the St. Lawrence River (#56). So far conditions on the ground are fairly dry. Ditches in the agricultural areas are low, and beaver ponds and lakes are down from their edges. In some areas the trees are well advanced, and I’ve noticed a lot more teal and fewer scaup passing through. We haven’t totaled our numbers yet, but I’m guessing that mallards and Canada geese aren’t a lot different from previous years.

If all goes well with the aircraft inspection, we’ll be back to surveying by the end of the week. In the meantime, I wish you beautiful weather – whatever that means to you!

N723 lays its first egg, a Fiat.

N723 lays its first egg, a Fiat. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS