Take Me Out To the Ball Game

Written by Steve Earsom
Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Photo of Stephen D. Earsom.When I was a senior in high school I was first baseman on our baseball team. I thought it would be a fun sport to play again before heading off to college, since I had always enjoyed playing during the summers while growing up. Well, it wasn’t fun. We were bad. In fact, we were spectacularly awful.

One team we played against, which was obviously well coached, used us to practice their fundamentals and weak spots. In the first inning, every one of their batters bunted. Every one of them. They loaded the bases and scored several runs before we could retire the side. And the ball never left the infield. It wasn’t until the fourth inning that their coach finally let them “play,” and by then we were down by two touchdowns. Yeah, that was frustrating.

Now we’re putting that discipline to work in the Ungava. The weather here seldom allows us to fly all day and survey many miles. More often than not it is a matter of looking at the peninsula to see where we might be able to go, what we could survey once we’re there, then having a couple of options for where to go once we finish or get chased out by bad weather.

So far this year we have surveyed small chunks on two days (one of which we had to terminate early because of weather). On another day we got chased back to the airport before even starting to survey due to clouds and fog that fooled both my weather briefer and me. On three other days we’ve not flown due to low visibility, ice in the clouds and strong winds. Sunday though was the home run. With rare sunny skies and light winds, we flew all day and completed the remainder of the east side of the peninsula. Cruddy weather since then has allowed us to crunch some numbers. Our results so far indicate Canada goose numbers are up by about 30% from last year, which was a fairly average year. Note this is only for the east side, which tends to have lower densities than the west.

We’ll provide further updates from the Hudson Bay coast. Until then, we’re waiting for another opportunity to bunt.

Tidal outflow carrying ice out of still mostly frozen Payne Bay near Kangirsuk, Quebec, Canada.  Photo: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

Tidal outflow carrying ice out of still mostly frozen Payne Bay near Kangirsuk, Quebec, Canada. Photo: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

The tundra was still mostly frozen and ice-covered on our northernmost transects near Quaqtaq, Quebec.  Photo: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

The tundra was still mostly frozen and ice-covered on our northernmost transects near Quaqtaq, Quebec. Photo: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

Ungava Bay was still frozen solid near Quaqtaq, Quebec.  Photo: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

Ungava Bay was still frozen solid near Quaqtaq, Quebec. Photo: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

Jean Rodrigue of the Canadian Wildlife Service shows some of our equipment to a local villager while we wait for fuel at Kangirsuk, Quebec.

Jean Rodrigue of the Canadian Wildlife Service shows some of our equipment to a local villager while we wait for fuel at Kangirsuk, Quebec.