Finished Up

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 Brad Pendley
Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Photo of Brad Pendley.Finishing up the lines this year is bittersweet. I am always happy to finish up and start making my way back home. This is year three of my three-year commitment to fly surveys. I love doing this, and it is the highlight of my work year. That is saying something, since I have the honor of working on a National Wildlife Refuge as a wildlife biologist.

The last few lines in Northern Quebec were ice covered and dry. The birds were stacked up in the open water and many were still in groups. One group of 183 Canada geese were staging in on a sunny island in the middle of a big reservoir, just waiting to go find that perfect nesting spot. Where there was open water, the birds were there. Scoter and long-tailed ducks were scattered along the way along with the black ducks, mergansers, and goldeneyes. Hudson Bay was still mostly locked up as we tried to spot a polar bear taking advantage of the ice. It was one last chance to see one, but no dice on that length of frozen coast.

We finished the last line and stayed the night in Radisson, then the marathon trip to get home. It’s a long flight down to Bangor, ME, with an hour to empty the plane and clear customs. I hopped over to the commercial side of the airport. I’m not sure why, but when I cross that border, it triggers something in me to get home. After being up north, it is always a mild shock to get into the busy airports with folks running around and bumping into each other. Bangor, Detroit rock city, St. Louis, then hugs, kisses and sleeping kids for the last 2 hours of a long day. It seems strange (but oh so good) to crawl into my own bed in a hot and sticky Missouri after leaving snow and ice 14 hours earlier. What a great adventure the last three springs have been. I wonder when I will get to see that next “oldsquaw.”

Still frozen in northern Quebec. Photo Credit: Brad Pendley, USFWS.

Still frozen in northern Quebec. Photo Credit: Brad Pendley, USFWS.