Western Ontario and Northcentral Quebec

Finished Up

Western Ontario and Northcentral Quebec
Written by Brad Pendley
Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Photo of Brad Pendley.Finishing up the lines this year is bittersweet. I am always happy to finish up and start making my way back home. This is year three of my three-year commitment to fly surveys. I love doing this, and it is the highlight of my work year. That is saying something, since I have the honor of working on a National Wildlife Refuge as a wildlife biologist.

Winter Still Grips Hudson Bay

Western Ontario and Northcentral Quebec
Written by Jim Wortham
Sunday, May 29, 2016

Photo of Jim Wortham.We are now in the midst of our survey in northern Quebec. As expected, spring has been reluctant to embrace this area, and ice and snow persist in the more northern and highest elevation areas. Elsewhere in this area, the birds are staking out their nesting areas, and we are seeing good numbers of scoters and Canada geese. Yesterday also brought us face-to-face with the reality of late spring on the Hudson Bay. By the looks of it, winter will be here for a few more days!

Stratum 70 Is Dry

Western Ontario and Northcentral Quebec
Written by Brad Pendley
Thursday, May 26, 2016

Photo of Brad Pendley.Stratum 50 in western Ontario looked pretty similar to previous years. There were a few dry areas, but for the most part, the water and ducks were there. We finished up Stratum 50 in five straight days of flying. They were long, great days and it felt good to make so much progress in a short period of time. We finished up in time to head back across the line to Maine for a quick plane swap. Trusty old N708 was due for her 100 hour inspection. It was also a chance for us to bump into another crew that was finishing up. Three hours in the states and right back across. After a stop in New Brunswick and a welcome down day for weather, we saddled up and crossed the St. Lawrence Gulf. I love when we cross because you never know what you might see. This year I looked down just in time to see some whales breaching.

Pickle, Sand, Bearbone, Cat, Long-Legged, Nighthawk, Big Trout

Western Ontario and Northcentral Quebec
Written by Brad Pendley
Saturday, May 21, 2016

Photo of Brad Pendley.As we make huge upside-down horseshoe runs to complete Stratum 50, it is always fun to sneak a glance at the map to see the names of the lakes we are flying over. You can’t help but wonder who named them and what made them choose the name they did. It seems they only name the really big lakes, at least on the maps I’m looking at. I can’t help but think the “locals” have a name for the 500 acre body of water where I just saw a pair of goldeneye, three common loons and a moose standing knee deep in water. Maybe they don’t, but it doesn’t make it any less beautiful or important for the breeding pairs we are up here counting. In some places, we fly over as much water as land. Some of the water is six inches deep and over huge grassy string bogs with small ridge lines waving through them and some of it is deep water that has an emerald green ring around it with a center that is as black as coal.

Beaver Marshes Available for Occupancy

Western Ontario and Northcentral Quebec
Written by Jim Wortham
Friday, May 20, 2016

Photo of Jim Wortham.We have just completed the survey in western Ontario. Our timing seemed to be perfect. Lakes were all thawed, trees have not leafed-out, and the birds are here and ready. The habitat looks great, but my concerns persist from last year regarding the beaver population. Many prime beaver marshes remain unoccupied, and as a result, water levels in these marshes are not maintained and the potential habitat is lost to nesting waterfowl. My rough estimates are that only about 60% of the potential beaver colonies are occupied. Next stop, Bangor, Maine to deliver this aircraft off for maintenance and inspection, and to borrow a sister aircraft to complete the remainder of our survey.

North Bound Again and Happy About It

Western Ontario and Northcentral Quebec
Written by Brad Pendley
Friday, May 13, 2016

Photo of Brad Pendley.This marks my 3rd year of May surveys. I have been lucky enough to fly Stratum 50, 69 and 70 in Ontario and Quebec with my pilot, Jim Wortham. This year’s prep was a little different than the previous 2 seasons in a couple of ways.

From Hot to Cold

Western Ontario and Northcentral Quebec
Written by Jim Wortham
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Photo of Jim Wortham.Preparations have all been completed and basically it has become a waiting game to allow the habitat to “ripen” or thaw out sufficiently to allow birds to “settle” or distribute across the landscape. Spring is on schedule or maybe a little early in western Ontario, but northern Quebec is running behind with most of the region remaining snow covered until well into May. Plans this year will consist of readying gear and equipment and heading northward out of hot Florida to rendezvous with Brad Pendley in Kentucky. From there, we will make the trek up through Michigan to enter Canada in central Ontario at Sault St Marie.

Chasing Manatees

Western Ontario and Northcentral Quebec
Written by Jim Wortham
Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Photo of Jim Wortham.Not all of our flying is for ducks, and one of the highlights of this job is that you never know what will be up next in the queue. Following our May Waterfowl Surveys in Canada, I immediately traveled down to Florida for my next project which, in this case, was a “manatee hunt.”

The Ups and Downs of Stratum 69

Western Ontario and Northcentral Quebec
Written by Brad Pendley
Monday, May 25, 2015

Photo of Brad Pendley.The title of this one says it all on many levels. Stratum 69 in Quebec is considerably different than Stratum 50 that we just completed in Ontario. This stratum is a rollercoaster. We go up and down over the huge hills; all the while with our heads on a swivel trying to see down into the narrow valleys with beautiful ponds holding waterfowl to count. The other ups and downs involve the weather.

Finishing Western Ontario

Western Ontario and Northcentral Quebec
Written by Jim Wortham
Saturday, May 16, 2015

Photo of Jim Wortham.Today we are finishing up Western Ontario. We have had great flying weather, and our timing over the landscape seems to be perfect. All except the largest lakes are ice-free and temperatures are warming dramatically. We are seeing good numbers of birds, although it is too early in the survey to identify any trends. We are also touching base with numerous old friends along the way, including float base operators and fellow aviators who operate in this challenging country throughout the whole year. Convective weather is on the way, and we will now need to make the decision on whether to run east and begin the north shore of the St. Lawrence versus hunkering down, waiting for the weather to pass, and continue up to northern Quebec. Stay posted.

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