Waterfowl research survey yields interesting results

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There were mixed results from a couple of blustery waterfowl survey and research events in the Maritimes on Sunday, Nov. 24.

Volunteers were out in force for the annual bird count in Port Joli on Nov. 24

A clarification on the story about the Wild for Waterfowl Count for the Port Joli Important Bird Area on Nov. 24.  Initial impressions suggested the numbers of waterfowl were low.  However, after tallying all survey reports for the entire Important Bird Area, the totals for Canada Goose and American Black Duck are higher than in previous years.  Overall, there were fewer types of waterfowl observed, particularly diving ducks such as Harlequin Duck.  The cold, windy weather that day made surveying a challenge.  Our, thanks again to all the volunteer participants. 

The Nature Conservancy of Canada had over 60 people participate in identifying and counting ducks in key wetland areas.

 The Nature Conservancy of Canada and Bird Studies Canada held their 5th annual Wild for Waterfowl event in Port Joli Harbour Nova Scotia. 

 With temperatures around minus five and wind gusts to up to 50 kilometres per hour, it meant the birds were tucked away. 

 Biologists say this was the lowest population numbers of waterfowl in the history of the Scotian South Shore event located in both Shelburne and Queens Counties.

 Nature Conservancy of Canada stewardship coordinator in Nova Scotia, Doug van Hemessen, said one factor is that not all Canada geese have arrived for their winter stay.

 Teams split up in the national bird sanctuaries and recorded 2400 Canada geese and 400 black ducks along with hundreds of other birds.

 Those species included small numbers of hooded and breasted mergansers; buffleheads; eiders; harlequin ducks; horned grebes.

 They also spotted two bald eagles, a great blue heron and one coyote.  

 This event is held to help measure the effectiveness of three bird sanctuaries and see which waterfowl try to remain in the area to try and handle our harsh winter climate and coastal winds.  

Twelve different species were spotted at the NCC’s protected area in Baie Verte, New Brunswick.  

 Biologists and volunteers faced 30 km/h winds and recorded over 1,200 black ducks and 900 Canada geese.

Other waterfowl included gulls, hooded and red breasted mergansers and mallards along with common goldeneye. In all they counted more than 2,500 birds.

 Nature Conservancy of Canada biologist and Atlantic Region Stewardship director Laurel Bernard said the results were higher than anticipated for this time of year.   Other sightings included a surprise of more than 200 snow buntings, a seal, a coyote and a bald eagle.

 It was the first year Nature Conservancy of Canada held this event, aimed at assessing population numbers in this area on the New Brunswick side of the Chignecto Isthmus where NCC has over 230 acres protected.   The goal was to identify ducks that live in the region and others who have decided to winter here.

 All data collected by the Nature Conservancy of Canada with be shared with federal (Canadian Wildlife Service) and provincial agencies (Departments of Natural Resources) as information on wildlife populations.

 These were the last of 14 Conservation Volunteer events for 2013 by the Nature Conservancy of Canada in the Atlantic Region.  Nature Conservancy of Canada is a not for profit land conservation organization that has protected 63,000 of wetlands, forests and coastal shoreline areas in the four provinces, conserving habitat for at-risk species.


Organizations: NCC, Canadian Wildlife Service

Geographic location: Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick Shelburne Baie Verte Atlantic Region

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