Finished Up in Southern Saskatchewan

Written by Phil Thorpe
Sunday, May 24, 2015

Photo of Phil Thorpe.Stephen and I flew our last survey lines today. Other than the down time for the oil leak, we had a great month and beautiful survey weather. As we continued our survey north, habitat conditions in the northern grasslands continued to show good potential for waterfowl recruitment. The aspen parklands, although starting to dry out in some areas, have widespread good wetland conditions to support brood rearing.

Across the province, farm seeding was slightly earlier than the previous two years, which may improve the success rate for waterfowl nests located in ag fields. While not an ideal nesting location, there isn't much native grassland left in the province, so ag fields in the “grasslands” of southern Saskatchewan do provide ample nesting habitat for many species of waterfowl. If the timing is right, these fields can provide safe havens from predators because of their size, compared to the narrow band of vegetation left around a wetland in the middle of a fallow field. And once the disturbance from seeding is over, studies have shown that duck nest success in spring seeded fields isn’t too bad; not great, but better than nothing. Diver nesting in the parklands also looks good; wetlands are flooded and there is a lot of emergent vegetation for overwater nesters.

All in all, Saskatchewan should provide another good fall flight given the habitat conditions and numbers of ducks present this year.

In addition to the normal runoff from snow melt, some of the larger lakes in the northeast parklands have continued to grow in size, as smaller wetlands are drained into them.  The new road and dead trees give you an idea of how long the higher water has been present. Photo: P. Thorpe, USFWS.

In addition to the normal runoff from snow melt, some of the larger lakes in the northeast parklands have continued to grow in size, as smaller wetlands are drained into them. The new road and dead trees give you an idea of how long the higher water has been present. Photo: P. Thorpe, USFWS.

Drier conditions in the northeast aspen parklands.  Photo: P. Thorpe, USFWS

Drier conditions in the northeast aspen parklands. Photo: P. Thorpe, USFWS

Draining smaller, ephemeral and temporary wetlands into more permanant wetlands (background) in the northeast parklands of Saskatchewan.  Photo: P. Thorpe, USFWS.

Draining smaller, ephemeral and temporary wetlands into more permanant wetlands (background) in the northeast parklands of Saskatchewan. Photo: P. Thorpe, USFWS.

Continued good conditions in the northern parklands near Prince Albert. Photo: P. Thorpe, USFWS

Continued good conditions in the northern parklands near Prince Albert. Photo: P. Thorpe, USFWS

Still plenty of water in parts of southern Saskatchewan. Photo: P. Thorpe, USFWS.

Still plenty of water in parts of southern Saskatchewan. Photo: P. Thorpe, USFWS.