Maine and Atlantic Canada Crew Waiting on Weather

Written by Mark Koneff
Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Photo of Mark Koneff.If you’d have asked me in February, I’d have said we were looking at an exceptionally early spring across the northeast and Canadian Maritimes. Right across the Maine and Atlantic Canada crew area, we saw warmer than average temperatures during the winter through February. Those temperatures were coupled with average to below average winter precipitation. While this put a damper on the fun of ice fishermen like my sons and me, after the long, bitter cold winter of 2015, I didn’t hear too much grumbling. Eastern Canada and the northeast US saw a substantial cool down in March and April and precipitation in early spring has been below average, well below average in some areas of Maine and the Canadian Maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. At the start of the survey things look pretty dry across Maine and the Maritimes.

My biologist-observer this year, Heidi Hanlon, arrived in Bangor on Sunday, May 1 and we spent Monday going through safety checklists, safety gear, aircraft operations, crew communications and coordination, and data collection and processing steps, since this will be her first year as an observer during the Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey. Recon flights last week and observations from the ground show that the early nesting species like mallards and black ducks are on territories and the later migrants that are headed north have largely moved through Maine, so timing looks perfect and we are eager to start the survey. As fate would have it, however, after all the sunny weather we’ve had the past month, we now find ourselves locked in low clouds and rain that is forecast to persist for the next week. So things are back to normal. The week’s forecast does give some reason to hope that we’ll see at least a couple of flying days during that stretch. We’ll see how much of an impact the week of rain and showers affects water levels.

Heidi is from Cape May, New Jersey. She is the Wildlife Biologist at Cape May and Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuges. She has worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service for 16 years. At the refuges, Heidi mostly works with shorebirds, waterfowl, bats, horseshoe crabs, and salamanders, though her passion is small mammals! She also spends a great deal of time in the coastal marshes studying nekton (aquatic invertebrates) and vegetation and is working on Hurricane Sandy resiliency projects at both refuges to enable the marshes to withstand future storms and sea level rise. Heidi enjoys learning new things and having new experiences. She tells me that she is thrilled to be an observer for this year’s Survey. With her enthusiasm, it promises to be a great survey.

Maine and Atlantic Canada survey crew for 2016. Biologist-Pilot Mark Koneff and Biologist-Observer Heidi Hanlon. Survey aircraft is Quest Kodiak, N769. Photo Credit: Mark Koneff, USFWS

Maine and Atlantic Canada survey crew for 2016. Biologist-Pilot Mark Koneff and Biologist-Observer Heidi Hanlon. Survey aircraft is Quest Kodiak, N769. Photo Credit: Mark Koneff, USFWS