Southern Manitoba Population Survey

Written by Doug Benning
Thursday, May 13, 2010

Photo of Doug Benning.Pilot Brian Lubinski and I have the southern Manitoba survey well underway. Sorry to be a bit late with this input, but unlike many of the other survey crews, we have had a spell of good weather since arriving on the breeding grounds and have been tied up with the task at hand of flying the survey and working with the data. We arrived in Brandon by May 5 and started the survey flights the next day. We lost two days to poor weather so far, but we’ve gotten in 3 full days of surveys. Fortunately, the weather forecast looks good for most of the remainder of this week, so our surveys, though late for early nesters, will hopefully proceed rapidly now.

Southern Manitoba experienced a mild and dry fall and winter, with mild conditions in late March and April. Heavy precipitation fell during the first few days of May across most of central Manitoba, filling temporary basins and helping to maintain semi-permanent and permanent wetlands. Sheet water was extensive during our surveys of the southeast, but we expect the more seasonal temperatures later this week along with the drier sub-soils there to soak it up quickly. Greenup was likewise early with wetland emergent growth well advanced at this early date. Early farming activities in late April, which may have caused some nest loss to early field nesting species, appear to have been temporarily halted with the recent rains. The surveys to date suggest early nesters such as mallards have initiated nesting very early this year. Between the recent moisture, the warmer temperatures and clearing skies expected later this week, vegetative growth should experience a shot in the arm at a very good time for the ducks and may lead to better than average brood rearing cover with much improved water levels for brood survival.

Area of good water conditions but limited margin cover (39-03-07).(Credit:  D. Benning, USFWS)

Area of good water conditions but limited margin cover (39-03-07). Credit: D. Benning, USFWS

Many basins are full in much of the area along the US border (39-09-03).(Credit:  D. Benning, USFWS)

Many basins are full in much of the area along the US border (39-09-03). Credit: D. Benning, USFWS