Survey Started Fast
My observer Jon Klimstra and I just completed the first two transects west of Pierre, SD, today. Survey timing is a bit earlier than normal this year due to the balmy spring we've enjoyed, which seems to have kicked the breeding behavior into high gear this week. We are flying a FWS-owned Supercub (PA-18). This is the first time a Cub has been used for this survey in a long time, but we had no other options due to lack of other available fleet aircraft.
Conditions are drier than last year, which is what we expected, considering the mild winter we've had. Most of the temporary and seasonal wetlands are dry, but the Type III and larger wetlands are holding good water. This may impact the early nesting species, such as pintails, which prefer those shallow, seasonal wetlands as pair habitat. However, we counted good numbers of pintails today, along with the usual abundance of mallards, blue-winged teal and gadwalls. Overall, Jon and I consider the first two transects as fair to good in terms of water.
Upland nesting habitat looks good to excellent and will certainly benefit from the 1+ inch of rain received over the last week.