SASKATCHEWAN HABITAT REPORT – February 17, 2009 by set6tyhsd

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									Ducks Unlimited Canada – September 2009 Habitat Report




                      Early Fall Habitat Conditions in Canada
                                   Sept 23, 2009
          September has been warmer than normal in much of the Western Region, which may
          be delaying migration in some areas. While dry conditions in Alberta will result in a
               poor fall flight and hunt, conditions are more favourable in the Parklands of
            Saskatchewan as well as the pothole region of Manitoba. Conditions are also good
           throughout the Eastern Region. Record numbers of birds have been banded in some
          areas of Ontario and Quebec, and prospects for the fall are good in Atlantic Canada.




WESTERN REGION


British Columbia

Cooler fall weather has arrived on the coast, where rains are beginning to replenish the
ground after a very hot, dry summer. Most river flows are near normal. Farmers on the
lower mainland and Vancouver Island are harvesting their crops and planting cover crops
that will provide food for waterfowl over the winter. Waterfowl, especially mallards and
northern pintails, are now migrating down the Pacific Flyway and can be seen in local
wetlands and estuaries. However, given sub-par production in some northern parts of the
flyway, prospects for the fall flight are below normal.

In the central Interior, precipitation has been minimal and water levels continue to decline.
The hunting season is expected to be poor due to low production.

Conditions are variable in the southern Interior. Most of the Thompson and Okanagan
drainages are experiencing a very dry growing season, and only the Similkameen is having a
near-normal year. Most large rivers are at 5 to 10 year lows. Conditions are fair overall in
the southeast Interior, but vary from dry in the Columbia drainage to normal in the
Kootenay drainage.

In the Peace region, conditions are still relatively dry. Precipitation has been 60-85% of
normal since April 1, there is no soil moisture to speak of, and wetlands are at very low
levels. Hunting season has started. There have been no major migration movements yet,
although that will likely change this coming weekend when the temperature is expected to
reach zero.


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Ducks Unlimited Canada – September 2009 Habitat Report


Western Boreal Forest

The Yukon is currently experiencing a late fall. Temperatures have been warmer than
normal and precipitation has been above normal in some areas, including Whitehorse.
There has been little frost thus far and only small amounts of snow are present in the hills.
As a result, birds have not yet begun to move through.

Precipitation has been normal or above normal through much of the NWT. Norman Wells
had the most precipitation (176% of normal), followed by Fort Simpson (166% of normal),
Yellowknife (93% or normal), and Hay River (85% of normal).

Because of the dry conditions through much of northern Alberta, good hunting
opportunities are few and far between. Ducks and geese are concentrating on large lakes
and marshes, but the hot weather has delayed their arrival. However, there has been a big
push of cranes this week, with a few snow geese starting to migrate through, so hunting
opportunities should improve in the next couple of weeks. Precipitation has been far below
normal through much of northern Alberta, including in Whitecourt (60% of normal), Cold
Lake (59% of normal), Grande Prairie (49% of normal), and High Level (53% of normal).

September has been warmer than normal in northern Saskatchewan. Temperatures above
30 C have been common and harvest is well underway. Precipitation in August was at or
slightly above normal for many areas.

In northern Manitoba, the Pas region was colder and wetter than normal this summer.
However, this trend was reversed in September, which brought warmer than average
temperatures and less than normal precipitation. This has caused some frustration for
hunters. Local hunting reports have indicated a lower than normal result with divers and
"not bad" dabbler shoots. Moderate snow geese flocks have been stopping through the area,
and one local hunter reported harvesting about three snow geese for every one ross’s goose.



Alberta

Growing season precipitation totals were average in the southern Prairie, and below average
in the Peace Parkland, Boreal Transition Zone (BTZ), Aspen Parkland and northern Prairie.
This weather pattern, which is a continuation of the trend established in the fall of 2008, has
continued into September.

While temperatures were generally average to slightly below average through August,
September temperatures have been 5 to 10 C above average. There were light overnight
frosts in early September, but no killing frosts have occurred to date.

In the southern Prairie, as is typical, most natural wetlands have dried but irrigation habitat is
in good condition. Further north, dry conditions prevail and many semi-permanent
wetlands are dry or have extensive mudflats. Conditions are poor throughout the Aspen
Parkland and BTZ, although some isolated areas are faring better. The poorest conditions



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Ducks Unlimited Canada – September 2009 Habitat Report


are found in the Edmonton-Camrose area. The Peace Parkland has also been dry, and many
larger wetlands and lakes are in a drawdown condition. Recently, there have been light
overnight showers.

Overall, the current warm, dry weather is forecast to last until the end of September. The
fall harvest is well underway throughout the province, and grains and peas are being
combined. Canola has been slow to mature, so harvest is somewhat delayed. Pastures are
generally in poor condition and surface water supplies for livestock are declining.

Waterfowl production was below average this year, so a below average fall flight and hunting
season is anticipated. Field staff are reporting limited early season hunting opportunities
because of the warm temperatures and dry conditions. White-fronted and snow geese are
now moving into the province. Hunter reports indicate fewer immature geese, in both local
and migrating groups, which is making hunting more of a challenge. The best hunting
opportunities will be in the irrigation districts and in association with larger, more permanent
wetlands and lakes.



Saskatchewan

Habitat conditions vary, with dry wetland conditions persisting in west central and southern
areas, while the central Parklands are experiencing good wetland conditions. The province
has experienced above normal temperatures in the past couple of weeks, with record highs
being set in some areas. There have been some sporadic rains across the province, but these
have only served to maintain wetland conditions.

The Missouri Coteau and the Prairies have generally been dry, while conditions are fair to
good in the Parklands. Although field-feeding flocks of birds have been observed, harvest is
one to two weeks behind and ducks are still on the larger bodies of water. The warmer
temperatures over the last couple of weeks have helped to give farmers hope of getting their
crops off the fields before the first frost.

Migrating sandhill cranes, snow geese and Canada geese have been showing up and their
numbers continue to build. Interestingly, there are still a few flightless ducks, which could
indicate that attempts were made to nest late into the summer. Hunting activity has been
slow with the warmer temperatures, but will likely begin to increase in the next couple of
weeks. There have been large numbers of hunters in the Melfort area, including several
visitors from the US. Good snow goose and Canada goose hunts, as well as very good duck
hunts, have been reported.




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Ducks Unlimited Canada – September 2009 Habitat Report


Manitoba

The frequent rainfall events and unseasonably cool temperatures of this summer have
created favourable wetland conditions throughout most of the pothole regions of southwest
Manitoba leading into the fall.

Wetlands remain in excellent condition in the Minnedosa / Shoal Lake pothole region and in
very good condition in much of the Killarney pothole region. However, southern portions
of the Virden pothole region have reduced wetland conditions and some Class IV wetlands
are dry in the Virden area. More rain may be required in western portions of the pothole
region to improve soil moisture conditions and secure a good frost seal.

Harvest has been delayed. Many producers south of Brandon have just finished harvesting
cereal grains, while producers north of Brandon have just started combining recently. No
fall tillage work is evident at this time. However, some winter wheat acres have been seeded
where harvest is more advanced, primarily in the southernmost portions of the province.

The first three weeks of September brought continuous warm temperatures and blue skies.
This was a welcome boost for the late harvest, as well as for the large number of late broods
hatched this year, some of which will have just fledged within the past weeks. Snow geese
and cackling geese have started to arrive but are still scarce.

Given the favourable wetland conditions and ample food supply, prospects for hunting
should be great this year. Early season hunting reports indicate plenty of opportunities for
large resident Canada Geese. Field-feeding mallards are now being observed, although birds
seem very widespread and in smaller groups - likely a result of plentiful food sources. Mixed
bagged hunts tend to be the norm at this time and success is reported as good.




EASTERN REGION


Ontario

As the fall flight gets underway, wetlands across southern Ontario remain plentiful and in
good shape despite an almost month-long dry spell. The wet weather that inundated the
southern region for most of the summer came to an abrupt end in late-August. Since then,
much of the region has received less than 40% of its average rainfall. Fortunately, wetland
habitats were in excellent condition in advance of this recent dry period and they continue to
be at or near full supply.

The dyked coastal marshes along the shores of Lake Erie, the Detroit River, and Lake St.
Clair have all been readied in advance of opening day and their waterfowl numbers continue
to build. Water levels in Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair, Lake Ontario, and Lake Huron have all
continued their seasonal declines and all, with the exception of Huron, remain slightly above
their respective long-term monthly averages. This should bode well for waterfowl and


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Ducks Unlimited Canada – September 2009 Habitat Report


hunters alike. Corn maturity will be slightly behind schedule in most of the province,
although recent temperatures have been favourable for this important waterfowl staple.

While many locations across northern Ontario received abnormally high rainfall totals in
August, this region has also seen significantly drier weather in recent weeks. However,
wetlands throughout the north remain in good condition for migrating waterfowl.

Waterfowl have been building on many inland and coastal marshes since mid-August. Good
numbers of mallards, wood ducks, and even blue-winged teals have been reported on
marshes across the province. Gadwalls, black ducks, green-winged teals, and wigeons have
also begun to appear in small groups. Early banding results have been mixed. While record
numbers of birds have been banded in some southwest locations, banding efforts in the near
north have yielded little return, suggesting that 2009 was an average production year at best.
Overall, prospects for the fall flight and hunting season are considered good.



Quebec

Temperatures in August and September were average or warmer than normal for all regions,
and were especially warm in Quebec City, Montreal and the eastern townships.

In August, total precipitation was below average for all regions except Saguenay-Lake-Saint-
Jean, Cote-Nord and Abitibi in the north. Total precipitation has been very poor since the
beginning of September. The mean water level at the St. Lawrence Sorel station was 11 cm
higher than average in August.

Given the warmer September temperatures, the fall flight is slightly late this year. Waterfowl
are just starting to arrive, but wetlands are in good condition. Banding results in the Lower
St. Lawrence region revealed an American black duck juvenile-to-adult ratio of 1:8, which is
lower than last year. Several duck flocks have been observed along the St. Lawrence River
and in St. Peter’s Lake, and a good hunting season is expected throughout the province.

At Bylot Island, temperatures were favourable for a good banding season and a new record
was set, with 5,400 greater snow geese banded. The juvenile-to-adult ratio was 1.07, which is
higher than the long-term average of 1.04. The percentage of goslings this fall should be
around 25%, which is slightly higher than the long-term average of 23%.

Results were not so encouraging at Ellesmere Island, where the mean snow goose clutch size
was lower than the mean of the last two years. The percentage of successful goslings in the
fall flight population might be lower than 25%.



Atlantic Canada

Early spring production was successful, with many reports of early and healthy broods of
American black ducks, mallards and Canada geese. Habitat conditions were optimal for


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Ducks Unlimited Canada – September 2009 Habitat Report


these early nesters, with many seasonal wetlands and reasonably warm, dry weather.
However, later nesters (American wigeons and ring-necked ducks) had their reproductive
efforts delayed due to unseasonably low temperatures. Some of these late breeders, as well
as late re-nesters, can still be observed with older young.

Banding efforts indicate that birds are moving to the coast and the south later than usual.
Many areas are occupied solely by local birds, with few migrants observed as of yet.

Overall, annual production can be classified as good. Hunters can expect to see good
populations of local birds, and a slightly later flux of migrants. Field reports indicate that
large numbers of blue-winged teals are remaining in the area, possibly because their
reproductive efforts were delayed. The early goose season in New Brunswick was embraced
by many successful hunters, who focused primarily on large flocks in agricultural areas.
Prospects for the fall season look promising as well.




                                                         Early Fall
                                                    Habitat Conditions
                                                        in Canada




                                                                       Condition Rating
                                                                            No Data
                                                                            Excellent
                                                                            Very Good
                                                                            Good
                                                                            Fair
                                                                            Poor


  September 23, 2009




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Ducks Unlimited Canada – September 2009 Habitat Report


Prepared by Meagan Hainstock, based on reports provided by the following field contacts:
    British Columbia – Bruce Harrison
    Western Boreal Forest – Brent Friedt
    Alberta – Ian McFarlane
    Saskatchewan – Michael Hill
    Manitoba – Mark Francis
    Ontario – Scott Muir
    Quebec – Patrick Harbour
    Atlantic Canada – Adam Campbell




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