Maine and Atlantic Canada

Habitat Conditions in Maine and the Atlantic Provinces Variable

Maine and Atlantic Canada
Written by Mark Koneff
Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Photo of Mark Koneff.Across the Maine and Atlantic crew area it was a fairly normal winter with snow pack running about average or just below average. As for much of the northern tier of the U.S., spring was slow in coming to Maine, particularly in the higher elevations and across northern parts of the state. Flying conditions during the late winter and early spring where poor, with reduced ceilings and visibilities and high winds, though curiously little precipitation. A couple of weeks of fair skies and warm temperatures in late April advanced the spring phenology and waterfowl breeding efforts in the southern portions of the crew area. At the time of the survey in Maine, wetland habitats across the state were suffering from lack of spring precipitation, particularly so in western and northern regions. Drier than normal conditions also prevailed across the Canadian Maritime provinces during the survey period. Heavy rains during May recharged wetlands and caused local flooding, which may have destroyed some nests. Habitat conditions throughout Newfoundland and Labrador where generally good. Spring was early, but prolonged periods of rain and snow, especially in western Newfoundland and Labrador, may have taken a toll on early nesting efforts. Aircraft maintenance issues prevented us from surveying the Canadian portion of our crew area; fortunately, however, we routinely combine survey data collected by the USFWS and Canadian Wildlife Service to produce population estimates for this crew area and we still have access to our Canadian partners’ data. While this will not provide us as complete a picture of waterfowl populations in the crew area this year, we should have adequate sample coverage to bridge this year until we can return to full operational strength next season.

Heading Home - Conditions Generally Good

Maine and Atlantic Canada
Written by Mark Koneff
Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Photo of Mark Koneff.We wrapped up the Maine and Atlantic Canada crew area today in Labrador and ferried halfway home, stopping in Sept-Iles, Quebec for the evening. Snow and ice still cling to the higher elevations in Labrador, particularly above 2000 feet MSL. The thaw is well underway, however, and some local flooding of wetlands was observed throughout Labrador. In general, conditions are good for breeding waterfowl. I think we completed the survey of this crew area in record time this year…started April 29, finished May 22, including a return trip to Bangor for a 100-hour aircraft inspection. I’ll take it after taking 6 weeks to complete the survey during the wet/cold spring of 2011! Now I’m headed home to Bangor tomorrow, where I’ll prepare to survey the Canada Goose Atlantic Population on the Ungava Peninsula in northern Quebec in June. Stay tuned for that…

Newfoundland Completed

Maine and Atlantic Canada
Written by Mark Koneff
Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Photo of Mark Koneff.We completed the island of Newfoundland today, finishing up with the lines on the spectacularly beautiful northern peninsula. Out of Stephenville, NF, we crossed the rugged table-top mountains of Gros Morne National Park and descended into the coastal plain on the west side of the peninsula. This plain is rich in wetlands and is bordered by the Long Range Mountains running along the east side of the peninsula. We completed these survey lines, landing at St. Anthony, NF, for fuel before proceeding across the Belle Isle Straight to Labrador. We completed several lines in Labrador before stopping at Goose Bay for the evening. In lower elevations in southern Labrador little snow and ice was observed. More snow and ice were observed in higher elevations with some areas still locked in winter. Temperatures have exceeded 20 degrees C the past few days in Goose Bay, however, and the ice is melting quickly. As is typical, we’re seeing scaup, black ducks, Canada geese and other waterfowl in open water fringes and deltas as they await more suitable conditions to being breeding activity.

Conditions Look Good on “The Rock”

Maine and Atlantic Canada
Written by Mark Koneff
Sunday, May 13, 2012

Photo of Mark Koneff.The mandatory inspection on N769, our Quest Kodiak survey aircraft, was completed in Bangor, ME, on May 11. On May 12 we ferried from Bangor, across the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Stephenville, on the southwest coast of Newfoundland. A persistent low pressure system has brought rain and low clouds to much of the island for the past week, but advanced far enough east by the afternoon of May 13 for us to begin the survey again. We flew 2 long survey lines across the center of the island. Moose and caribou were plentiful and habitat conditions for waterfowl looked good. All wetlands, even high altitude wetlands, were ice-free and very little snow remains (again only on the highest terrain). Observed conditions bode well for waterfowl production on the “Rock” this spring.

Maine and the Maritimes Completed

Maine and Atlantic Canada
Written by Mark Koneff
Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Photo of Mark Koneff.We completed Nova Scotia today and returned to Bangor, Maine, for a scheduled inspection of N769, the Quest Kodiak we are using on survey. With that, we’ve finished Maine and the Maritimes with only Newfoundland and Labrador remaining. We’ll depart for Newfoundland following the inspection. The portion of the crew area that we just completed experienced a relatively warm and dry winter and early spring. Snow totals were below normal and warm temperatures in early spring contributed to an early snow melt and ice-out. Waterfowl breeding phenology was somewhat earlier than normal throughout Maine and the Maritimes. Lack of snow or early spring precipitation resulted in low flows on rivers and streams in Maine and drier wetland conditions until heavy rains recharged wetlands and streams in late April. Exceptions were extreme northern Maine and northwestern New Brunswick, which did not receive as much late April rainfall as other areas. At the time we were surveying, habitats in most areas in Maine and the Maritimes were classified as good, and I’d expect a strong breeding effort and good success if favorable conditions persist through the brood-rearing period.

Maine is Behind Us

Maine and Atlantic Canada
Written by Mark Koneff
Friday, May 04, 2012

Photo of Mark Koneff.We finished Maine on May 3 and began surveys in northern New Brunswick today. Conditions in northeastern Maine and northern New Brunswick appear drier than they are in the more southerly regions of Maine. In contrast to the flooding observed last spring, the St. John River, which runs through Fredericton, NB, remains within its banks. Like Maine, New Brunswick and the other Maritime Provinces received relatively little snow this past winter. Next, we’ll complete southern New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia before heading back to Bangor for a few days for an aircraft inspection. Following that we’ll be on to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Time to Survey the Atlantic Provinces

Maine and Atlantic Canada
Written by Mark Koneff
Sunday, April 29, 2012

Photo of Mark Koneff.My observer, Holly (Holiday) Obrecht, and I began the Maine and Atlantic Canada Crew Area today in Maine. Breeding habitat conditions in Maine thus far have been good and survey timing appears optimal. Winter in Maine and parts of Maritime Canada was relatively dry, particularly in comparison to the heavy snows experienced in the winter of 2010-2011. Spring, too, began warm and dry, however, temperatures in late April have been seasonal to cooler than average and several days of very heavy, and widespread, rain has recharged streams and wetlands. Here’s hoping for good flying weather and lots of birds in the easternmost crew area…

Atlantic Crew Area Completed

Maine and Atlantic Canada
Written by Mark Koneff
Saturday, June 11, 2011

Photo of Mark Koneff.Well, we began our survey efforts in Maine on May 3 and flew our final segment in Labrador on June 10. Our top-notch statistician, Emily Silverman at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland, who is now busily checking, summarizing and analyzing all crews’ survey data, believes I might even have a record for the most protracted survey. That’s a record I (and my family) don’t care to hold! It was definitely a tough weather year, but in a way, that makes crossing the finish line that much more satisfying. I parted ways this morning in Goose Bay, Labrador, with my observer and friend, John Bidwell. Having retired last year from the USFWS, this may have been John’s last May survey for a while. It was great having another experienced pilot-biologist in the right seat. While John travels home to Maine, I continued north to Kuujjuaq, Quebec, on the shore of the Ungava Bay. Tomorrow, I’ll meet up with biologists from the Canadian Wildlife Service and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and we’ll begin the annual breeding population survey of the Atlantic Population of Canada Geese. These geese winter in the mid-Atlantic region, with their winter distribution centered on the Delmarva Peninsula. The breeding population survey is conducted on the Ungava Peninsula of northern Quebec between the Hudson Bay to the west and Ungava Bay to the east. I’m hoping for good weather to get ‘er done and get back to my family in Maine.

Atlantic Crew Nears the Finish Line

Maine and Atlantic Canada
Written by Mark Koneff
Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Photo of Mark Koneff.We arrived in Goose Bay, Labrador, on June 6, and with a couple of good days of weather behind us, we’ve finished over half of our final strata of the survey. Conditions are generally good in Labrador. Due to weather delays in the south, the Labrador survey is running about a week behind normal timing, but timing appears reasonable with respect to breeding phenology. We’re probably a little late for early nesters, but about perfect for late nesting species like scaup and scoters. We arrived at the Goose Bay Airport this morning to be greeted by a U.S. Air Force C-5 Transport on the ramp near N769. The aircraft unfortunately experienced mechanical problems that grounded it temporarily in Goose Bay. It was full of troops returning from the Middle East. We’re hoping for a speedy repair so they can finish their journey home. During a fuel stop we also met up with a ski-equipped LC-130H of the 109th Air Wing out of Schenectady, NY. The crew was transporting a cadre of scientists and support staff to Greenland for the summer research season. It was great spending a little time with the crew and some of the passengers in between our flights.

Atlantic Crew Making Progress Again

Maine and Atlantic Canada
Written by Mark Koneff
Friday, June 03, 2011

Photo of Mark Koneff.After a quick mandatory aircraft inspection by the accommodating crew at Maine Aero in Bangor, we departed again for Newfoundland and Labrador to complete the survey. Weather continues to plague all attempts to make rapid progress, but we have caught a few breaks lately. On June 1 we finally flew the first 2 lines in southern Newfoundland. After sitting in Stephenville, Newfoundland, for a day in heavy rain, we flew the western and northern portion of the island today. The terrain there is dramatic, rising rapidly from a wetland-studded coastal plain into the Long Range Mountains. The photos just don’t do it justice. Despite the survey delays, we still encountered some patchy snow at higher elevations in this region, though very little ice was observed on the lakes and wetlands. Overall, survey timing still looks acceptable, with most observations consisting of paired birds or lone drakes. Habitat conditions look good overall, though continued cold and wet weather during the brood-rearing season could depress productivity.

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