23 June 2009

Waterfowl Nesting Delayed at Hudson Bay

Waterfowl researchers working in the La Perouse Bay region have reported that a late season thaw and extensive flooding of habitat is causing an extreme delay in nesting.

"Nesting habitat in the historic La Perouse Bay region is 95% under water, said Dr. Robert Rockwell, who has directed a snow goose research program at La PĂ©rouse Bay for nearly 25 years. Some of the water is "over-the-wader deep."

"There are some birds sitting on warm eggs in the Peter's Rock and lakes district," he said in an email report. "The modal numbers of eggs in the existing nests is two."

"Floating eggs leads to a projection of first hatch on July 8, 2009. Assuming a five day window like 1983, it suggests mean hatch on July 10, three days later than the previous record of July 7, 1983."

"There many pairs sitting around that are not on nests. The Blue Poles area is under flood water."

The "hatch will be quite protracted as one traditional area is under flood water with no nests - but pairs. The Thompson Point region was under 100% snow and ice" on June 14th. "There were many pairs in that region as well."

"Regardless of hatching success and clutch size, there will be minimal productivity from this colony this year as there will simply not be enough time for goslings to hit the dzubin weight required to migrate and survive," said Dr. Rockwell, with the Department of Ornithology, American Museum of Natural History.

Researchers are continuing to assess the nesting activities of the waterfowl, and will be trying to determine the "mean projected hatch" to indicate how the breeding season will fare.

La Perouse Bay is near Churchill, Manitoba, on the western shore of Hudson Bay. There are several researchers on the Hudson Bay Project Team.

Information posted by the Boreal SongBird Initiative also indicate the mid-June icy conditions present about Great Bear Lake, as well as Labrador and northern Quebec.

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