Southern and Central Alberta

"Postscript" - A Snapshot of the Western Portion of Southern Alberta

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Jim Bredy
Monday, May 30, 2016

Photo of Jim Bredy.Well, I thought my previous log was my last log for this spring waterfowl survey season. I departed the Villeneuve airport, near St. Albert, Alberta, on May 30, and flew to Lethbridge, Alberta. I’ll let the 5 attached high altitude habitat photos speak for themselves. See you next year. Jim

"#ELKFIT", Southern and Central Alberta Survey Wrap-Up

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Jim Bredy
Friday, May 27, 2016

Photo of Jim Bredy.Joe Sands and I completed the spring waterfowl surveys in this survey area on May 26. It was a long haul this year. We were delayed 13 days due to high winds, low ceilings and visibility, thunderstorms, and required aircraft maintenance inspections. Several survey computer malfunctions, while airborne, added to the frustration of our survey delays. I was fortunate to have the very capable Joe Sands fly with me again this year. He is an EXCELLENT duck counter. His dry wit and humor helped to pass the time on some of the long survey days, and the down days. I do not know how this youngster does it, but at the end of most days, he STILL found time to go to the hotel workout facility, and “throw-down” a mean workout! When I asked him how he does it, he sent me a one word matter-of-fact text, “#ELKFIT”. He is working hard to get in shape for a fall elk hunt. One of the favorite lines that he speaks disgustedly at me, when he catches me eating a double chocolate donut from Tim Horton’s, is: “Jim - Elk don’t eat donuts, they eat grass, and we eat elk.” I do admit that he is right. However, I do not plan on starting to eat grass anytime soon!

Flights Through History

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Joe Sands
Friday, May 13, 2016

Photo of Joe Sands.Alberta comes in large doses. To the west, the Rockies reach above the imagination. To the east, the expanse of prairie meets the horizon in a conflict of beige and orange as the sun rises. When you fly across the province you cut across history at two scales. The first is the geology that carved the landscape: rocky mountain uplifts; remnants of the last ice age, granite rocks deposited across the short grass steppe; and the features that we are here for, the ice-scraped potholes that when full, provide some of the most productive waterfowl habitat on the continent. In 2016 many potholes are empty, even those that have not been purposefully drained, and there is a foreboding sense of drought. Whether or not a long term drought is on the horizon is tough to say. All I can say is that wetlands (and thus waterfowl) are intimately connected to precipitation. The abundance of each have oscillated together for millennia and will continue to do so, so long as wetland basins remain intact and capable of producing adequate broods in wet years.

Predators Looking Strong!

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Garnet Raven
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Photo of Garnet Raven.The Alberta ground survey crew completed stratum 27 today and most of us have moved north to Wainwright. From here we will survey most of stratum 26 and bring the survey to a close in a few more days. We were delayed a couple of days when high winds grounded our air crew. Fortunately, the winds calmed down enough to get them back in the air and our ground crew back to work.

Moving On Up

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Garnet Raven
Friday, May 06, 2016

Photo of Garnet Raven.The Alberta ground survey crew has been able to complete stratum 29 and should finish 28 tomorrow. Some of our crew moved on to Hanna today and we plan on surveying stratum 27 from here before moving north to survey stratum 26. Weather has cooperated, allowing us to survey each day since starting on May 4th. Our pilot Jim Bredy and observer Joe Sands missed one day to weather but have been able to stay ahead of us and keep us busy.

Crossing the Rocks

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Jim Bredy
Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Photo of Jim Bredy.On May 1st, at 13,500 feet, I crossed the rocks near Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks, for another duck survey season in Alberta. I am very fortunate, in that I have the pleasure of flying with Dr. Joe Sands, again, a USFWS waterfowl biologist from the Portland, OR area. We flew a pre-survey recon on May 2nd, and started the surveys on May 3rd. The air/ground crew will start tomorrow. The very southern portions of the survey area appear to be very dry. We have a lot of surveying yet to accomplish. We are praying that the wetland and habitat conditions improve as we move further north. Stay tuned…

Alberta Ground Crew Ready to Roll Out

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Garnet Raven
Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Photo of Garnet Raven.The Alberta ground crew for the waterfowl breeding population and habitat survey gathered today in Medicine Hat, Alberta. The parklands near Edmonton were on the dry side as we departed. Our southern contacts were saying things were much worse on the prairies. During our travels, we were pleased to see the eastern parklands looked decent. Although most ephemeral and seasonal wetlands were dry, the semi-permanent wetlands seemed to be holding good water and were full of ducks. However, conditions deteriorated as we made our way south and things looked very dry as we approached Medicine Hat. There was very little precipitation in southern Alberta last fall, through the winter, and this spring. Medicine Hat actually received up to 20cm of snow last weekend but unfortunately it has disappeared and has been completely soaked up by the thirsty soil. Unprecedented high temperatures have greeted us as we arrived in stratum 29 and they are forecast to continue for the next few days. That will not help the wetland conditions as spring progresses. Our pilot, Jim Bredy, was able to survey the two southernmost transects today so our ground crew will be busy surveying the Pakowki and Manyberries air-ground transects tomorrow.

Weather and Habitat Update

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Jim Bredy
Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Photo of Jim Bredy.The dry/warm fall and winter has persisted into spring. Many of the locals in Southern Alberta are reporting this as one of the earliest "ice-outs" in recent memory. The warm and dry weather resulted in an early start to the fire season.

“The Cherry Blossoms Are Out. It Must Be Time to Fly North Again.”

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Jim Bredy
Thursday, March 31, 2016

Photo of Jim Bredy.The cherry blossoms are blooming at my house in the mountains on the east side of Albuquerque. That is always a good indication that my departure for the “north country” is imminent. It looks like I am fortunate to have the same observer back again for the third year in a row—Joe Sands, Ph.D, the migratory bird specialist for the FWS’s Northwest Region.

A Mixed Bag in Alberta

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Garnet Raven
Monday, June 01, 2015

Photo of Garnet Raven.The Alberta ground survey crew completed our portion of the survey on May 20th. In the parklands (stratum 26) we found generally good conditions. The southeast portion of the stratum was especially wet with almost all ponds full or nearly so. Further to the west it was a bit dryer, but even though many seasonal and temporary ponds in the croplands were drying up, most semi-permanent wetlands were full.

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