Eastern Dakotas Aerial Crew Crosses the Finish Line

Written by John Solberg
Friday, May 28, 2010

John SolbergOn Friday, May 28, Pete and I crossed the “finish line” for the 2010 survey effort.  We spent our final week in Minot, ND, where strong low pressure systems in Montana and a persistent front lying along the US/Canada border allowed only 2 flight days during that period.

The good wetland conditions continued from Carrington, ND, up to Minot, ND, and included the northeast portion of stratum 45. Habitat conditions and duck numbers deteriorated somewhat in the north central and northwestern part of the state. Because of the numerous weather delays during the survey, we were late finishing and were reminded repeatedly by the ever-growing flocks of post-breeding male ducks. With the strong contingent of breeding waterfowl that has developed in the region through the years of CRP and above average water conditions, along with our suspicion of additional “short-stopped” breeders, the Eastern Dakotas should experience a banner year in terms of production. With the amount of water on the landscape, brood survival should be very good as well.

Before too long, our assessment biologists will receive survey data from all survey crews and will release the 2010 estimates. When one considers the amount of time, logistical planning, miles covered, and people and equipment involved—not to mention the challenges of weather—it is truly an amazing feat to successfully accomplish this survey each year.

A closing thought for 2010: if you want to take part in one of the best bargains available in waterfowl conservation….BUY FEDERAL DUCK STAMPS! Over 90¢ of every duck stamp dollar is used to secure additional waterfowl habitat. Buy more than one…. for the ducks!

The basins south of Minot were replenished after a few inches of rain in late May. Because it is "new water", waterfowl densities were low because most were dry at the time of the migration. (Credit:  P. Fasbender, USFWS)

The basins south of Minot were replenished after a few inches of rain in late May. Because it is "new water", waterfowl densities were low because most were dry at the time of the migration. Credit: P. Fasbender, USFWS

Northeast North Dakota, in certain areas, contains adequate wetland densities of high quality. (Credit:  P. Fasbender, USFWS)

Northeast North Dakota, in certain areas, contains adequate wetland densities of high quality. Credit: P. Fasbender, USFWS

This is taken in northeast North Dakota after a couple inches of rain.  Some of the smaller wetlands are ditched, but the larger wetlands provide adequate water for breeding waterfowl. (Credit:  P. Fasbender, USFWS)

This is taken in northeast North Dakota after a couple inches of rain. Some of the smaller wetlands are ditched, but the larger wetlands provide adequate water for breeding waterfowl. Credit: P. Fasbender, USFWS

This area in northeast North Dakota shows the effectiveness of draining wetlands after periods of high moisture. (Credit:  P. Fasbender, USFWS)

This area in northeast North Dakota shows the effectiveness of draining wetlands after periods of high moisture. Credit: P. Fasbender, USFWS

This photograph shows the effectiveness of ditching efforts in northeast North Dakota. (Credit:  P. Fasbender, USFWS)

This photograph shows the effectiveness of ditching efforts in northeast North Dakota. Credit: P. Fasbender, USFWS

Despite the draining of wetland basins, recent moisture in eastern North Dakota still provides some habitat for breeding waterfowl. (Credit:  P. Fasbender, USFWS)

Despite the draining of wetland basins, recent moisture in eastern North Dakota still provides some habitat for breeding waterfowl. Credit: P. Fasbender, USFWS

This area is northwest of Grand Forks, North Dakota.  Former wetlands are evident here by the darker soil types.  Ditches connect wetlands to drain the wetlands.   Little waterfowl habitat is present in this area. (Credit:  P. Fasbender, USFWS)

This area is northwest of Grand Forks, North Dakota. Former wetlands are evident here by the darker soil types. Ditches connect wetlands to drain the wetlands. Little waterfowl habitat is present in this area. Credit: P. Fasbender, USFWS

Wetland complex in northeast North Dakota.  Note the drainage connections between wetlands.  Adequate nesting cover for waterfowl is present, but wetlands will likely be dry by the time of hatching. (Credit:  P. Fasbender, USFWS)

Wetland complex in northeast North Dakota. Note the drainage connections between wetlands. Adequate nesting cover for waterfowl is present, but wetlands will likely be dry by the time of hatching. Credit: P. Fasbender, USFWS

Wind farm near Minot, North Dakota.   (Credit:  P. Fasbender, USFWS)

Wind farm near Minot, North Dakota. Credit: P. Fasbender, USFWS