Southern and Central Alberta

Have Plane, Will Travel!

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Jim Bredy
Monday, June 03, 2013

Photo of Jim Bredy.The FWS pilot biologists have a tight-knit fellowship. We always work together to get the job done. Some years are more challenging than others, and this year has been a doozy so far.

RIP, Captain Bob

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Jim Bredy
Friday, May 31, 2013

Photo of Jim Bredy.This survey for me is more than just about counting ducks. I have forged some life-long friendships from some of those I’ve met. As I sit here in Edmonton with my plane undergoing a mandatory inspection, I began to reminisce about all of the people that have come, and gone in my life. It has been like an ever going tide, some come in and stay, and some go. As I write this with a tear in my eye, one of those persons that stayed and is now gone, was Bob Heath.

Hitchcock/Bredy Team, Signing Off

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Jim Bredy
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Photo of Jim Bredy.In a previous report, I noted how the survey gremlins returned this year with a vengeance. However, Mr. Hitchcock and I overcame their interference and successfully completed the Southern and Central Alberta survey portion on May 27. I feel fortunate to have had such a competent Crew Member again this year. He is one of those persons who looks at adversity as a challenge, not as a problem. Rest assured, Jay ALSO knows his ducks. I hope I have the good fortune to be able to work with this fine waterfowl man and gentleman in the coming years.

Survey Gremlins Return, Again

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Jim Bredy
Thursday, May 23, 2013

Photo of Jim Bredy.The survey gremlins are always out there, just waiting for a chance to bite you. We had an incredible start, flying 10 of 11 days. But in my 26 years of flying surveys up here, I have never failed to get bitten by at least one gremlin every year. It was just a matter of time… until we were attacked by a wolf-pack of them last Saturday. It started with stiff throttle cables, which a mechanic was able to lube and fix. Then it was food poisoning for both of us. And now an unsettled weather pattern has set in with winds gusting to over 30 knots the last several days, with no immediate relief in sight. We do not fly with strong winds for a multitude of reasons, primarily because it just is not safe to do so while flying low to the ground.

It Is Wet Out There!

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Garnet Raven
Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Photo of Garnet Raven.The Alberta ground crew has finished its portion of the survey for another year. Over the last few days we have moved from the Hanna area up through the eastern prairie parklands of Alberta. Weather did not slow us down at all and we were able to complete the survey in record time. Yesterday we completed the Cucumber air-ground northeast of Edmonton, the last of our transect segments in stratum 26.

Counting Lots of Ducks and Ponds

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Jim Bredy
Friday, May 17, 2013

Photo of Jim Bredy.This is the 26th season I have been flying surveys for the FWS. The days and the years seem to have blended into one long journey. It reminds me of some words in the final scene in the movie “A River Runs Through It” where the narrator states: “Eventually, all things merge into one”. I am extremely fortunate this year, in that I have the distinct pleasure of working again with one of the finest young waterfowl persons of my career as my crew member, Jay Hitchcock. Jay flew with me last year up here. It gives me a tremendous amount of pleasure to see fine young men like Jay, who are beginning to take charge of this great waterfowl resource I love so dearly. He is a certified “duck-head”, loves to work around ducks, can count ducks accurately from the air, and is just one of those pleasurable persons anyone would like to be around. We started the aerial surveys on May 9 near the Montana border. We have been extremely fortunate in that we have had decent enough weather to have been able to fly portions of at least eight straight days. Today the aircraft engines are undergoing an oil change and a “50 hour” preventative maintenance inspection. It is time to catch up on data transcribing and reports. We are currently based in Edmonton Alberta, and have one flight day left to finish the Southern Alberta portion of the survey, strata 26-29. After completing the area just north of Edmonton, it will be time to migrate up to “The Peace” country between Grande Prairie and Peace River, Alberta.

From Average to Awesome!

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Garnet Raven
Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Photo of Garnet Raven.The Alberta ground survey crew has been able to complete stratum 29 and 28 in southern Alberta and is close to finishing stratum 27. Weather has cooperated and temperatures have been well above average for most of the last few days, allowing our pilot Jim Bredy and observer Jay Hitchcock to survey each day since we started on May 9th.

Alberta Ground Crew Begins Survey

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Garnet Raven
Monday, May 13, 2013

Photo of Garnet Raven.The Alberta ground crew for the waterfowl breeding population and habitat survey gathered in Medicine Hat, Alberta, on Wednesday, May 8th. During the drive down from Edmonton we witnessed some good wetland conditions through the parklands. Conditions were variable further south, in the prairies. Although Alberta received good snowpack over the winter, it appears that much of the melt water is quickly getting absorbed by the thirsty soil. Our air crew, pilot Jim Bredy and observer Jay Hitchcock, was able to survey the two southernmost transects on the 9th so our ground crew was also able to begin the 2013 survey. Our Manyberries transect was about average for ducks and wetlands, while the Pakowki transect was quite dry.

Nearly Ready to Begin

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Jim Bredy
Saturday, May 04, 2013

Photo of Jim Bredy.The long winter of 2012/2013 slowly dissipated during the month of April, with some communities in Southern Alberta recording temperatures in the low 20 C range towards the end of the month. However, the last few days of April saw winter return with a vengeance. This slowed down the already rapidly advancing waterfowl breeding activities. My departure for the surveys was delayed as this same storm system moved through parts of the US. I finally departed Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the early morning of Friday, May 3. It was a smooth ride as I rode through the trailing edge of a high pressure system. I made a fuel/lunch stop in Cody, Wyoming. As I continued north, I crossed a cold front south of Great Falls, Montana, and chose to spend the night there.

Southern and Central Alberta Habitat Preview

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Jim Bredy
Thursday, March 07, 2013

Photo of Jim Bredy.The habitat conditions during the May survey of 2012 were drier than the previous May survey of 2011.

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