Southern and Central Alberta

Alberta Ground Crew Finishes 2010 Survey

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Garnet Raven
Friday, May 28, 2010

Garnet RavenThe Alberta ground crew completed its portion of the 2010 waterfowl breeding population and habitat survey today. In the Peace country we found the recent snow and rain event added water to many seasonal and temporary wetlands, but conditions were still below average and most semi-permanent wetlands were drawn down. Fortunately, there are many permanent wetlands in the area with adequate water, and duck numbers from the ground counts appear to be about average, albeit below last year’s totals.

Ground Crew up to Grande Prairie: ducks and water down this year

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Garnet Raven
Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Garnet RavenThe Alberta ground crew finished with the area north and east of Edmonton and made the long trek up to Grande Prairie today. Unfortunately, we found that moisture conditions didn’t improve significantly as we moved north into the boreal transition zone. Our counts in this area show both duck and pond numbers are down compared to last year. We found most temporary and seasonal wetlands were dry, but many semi-permanent and permanent wetlands still held adequate water. The first mallard brood of our survey was observed on the Moose Lake air-ground segment southwest of Bonnyville, AB, on May 24th. On the bright side, we ran into some wet weather over the last few days. Our pilot, Jim Bredy (USFWS), was not able to fly May 20-23rd due to the weather, which included rain, snow and high winds. The weather system actually brought accumulations of snow around Grande Prairie as well as significant amounts of rain. Although it’s late arriving, the moisture will help habitat conditions in the Peace Region. During our trip to Grande Prairie we observed some ephemeral water lying in fields that is likely a result of the recent rain and snow. But overall, wetland conditions look quite dry. Over the next few days we hope to survey our last air-grounds up here in the Peace parklands and complete the Alberta ground survey for 2010.

“If You Build It, They Will Come”

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Jim Bredy
Sunday, May 23, 2010

Jim BredyWe have been stuck on the ground due to weather the last 4 days. There are high winds gusting to 40 knots and snow flurries this morning. This reminds me of an old aviation saying: “It is better to be down here, wishing you were up there, rather than up there, wishing you were down here.” We have 4 segments left to fly to finish the Southern Alberta portion of the survey (Strata 26-29). Once we get those done, we will fly up to survey the area between Grande Prairie and Peace River.

Ground Crew Update – Dryer than last year

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Garnet Raven
Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Photo of Garnet Raven.The Southern Alberta ground crew has been surveying the parklands over the last 3 days (May 16th-19th) and has found conditions to be dryer than expected. Most air-grounds have fewer wetlands and ducks than were observed last year. It seems like the central area of the province is the driest, with conditions improving slightly to the east and west. We’ve observed many seasonal and even some semi-permanent wetlands that contained decent water last year but are dry this year. Apparently the spring storms that hit the southern prairies did not contribute as much moisture to the central parklands.

Survey Finally Begins In Southern Alberta: Conditions Improved

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Jim Bredy
Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jim BredyWe finally arrived in Alberta on May 08, after aircraft maintenance and multiple weather delays. We conducted a reconnaissance flight in the afternoon, east of Calgary, and saw 14 species of ducks. There were several large groups of scaup (50+), and we suspect they are still moving through, or are recent arrivals and have not yet dispersed. All of the other ducks seemed paired and well dispersed. We did notice a few groups of mallard drakes (one of 10 drakes and one of 17 drakes). The mallards may have gotten an early start to the breeding cycle with the warm and mild weather that was present in early- to mid-April. However, the persistent wintery weather at the end of April and early May most likely slowed the breeding chronology a bit.

Alberta Ground Crew Begins Survey

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Garnet Raven
Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Photo of Garnet Raven.The Alberta ground survey crew finally got started today, after bad weather kept our pilot grounded on the 9th and 10th. However, the 11th brought sunny skies and light winds with a favorable forecast for the coming week and we’ve been very busy ever since. We were able to complete 2 air-ground segments on May 11th in the southeast corner of the province. Wetland conditions were improved over last year’s dry spring and duck numbers were representative of that improvement. On May 12th we completed one segment south of Lethbridge and 2 segments just north of the Cypress Hills. The Cypress Hills got hit hard by the latest spring storm with over 2 feet of snow falling in the highlands.

Air Crew Still Trying to Get to Alberta

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Jim Bredy
Thursday, May 06, 2010

Jim BredyMy observer Dave Fronczak and I landed in Billings, MT yesterday evening, still trying to get to Alberta.

Alberta Ground Crew Eager to Begin

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Garnet Raven
Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Photo of Garnet Raven.The ground crew for the Alberta portion of the waterfowl breeding population and habitat survey is currently in a holding pattern. We’re basically packed up with no place to go. A spring storm has moved into Montana, the Dakotas and southern Alberta, preventing our flyway biologist Jim Bredy from flying to Alberta. On one hand we’re very pleased to be receiving the much-needed moisture, but on the other hand we’re anxious to get the survey started. In early- to mid-April it looked like much of Alberta would have one of the dryer springs on record. However, since then we’ve had several storms and the outlook is improving quickly. At this point it appears like wetland conditions are still slightly below average, but things are looking much better than they did 3 weeks ago.

Survey Completed: Drought Continues in the Alberta Prairie Pothole Region

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Jim Bredy
Monday, May 25, 2009

Jim BredyWe flew into Calgary, Alberta today after completing the survey this morning. Our previous post on May 14 reported on the area between the US border and Red Deer, Alberta. Since then, we have surveyed the areas between Red Deer, Edmonton, Cold Lake, Slave Lake, Grand Prairie, and Peace River, Alberta; including Dawson Creek and Ft. St. John, British Columbia.

Southern Alberta drier than last year

Southern and Central Alberta
Written by Jim Bredy
Thursday, May 14, 2009

Jim BredyWe finished our 5th day of flying today. We have flown most of the area between the US border and Red Deer, Alberta. Overall, the wetland and habitat conditions in our area are wetter in the west, when compared to the central and eastern portions. This is typical from what has been observed in the past.

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