Plenty of Vacancies, Ducks Welcome!

Written by Terry Liddick
Friday, May 24, 2013

Terry LiddickWell, after a long five-day delay in Jamestown due to weather and maintenance, we got going again and finished stratum 46 which encompasses the southern half of North Dakota. After all the rain we received the past four days, the landscape looks quite a bit different. We are once again seeing sheet water, and some of the seasonal wetlands that for the most part have been dry now have a little water in them. That’s the good news. The bad news is, it is all new water and most of it is vacant. Many more wetlands are vacant than occupied by ducks, a result of the rain maybe coming a little too late. It will be great for the long term drought but maybe not so beneficial for this years’ breeding effort.

We are now in Minot, North Dakota and are once again plagued by Mother Nature. We arrived in Minot on Thursday afternoon, May 23rd. We were able to get in a survey flight Friday morning. That was cut short by wind when that began to pick up about 10:00 AM. We landed at Minot and were able to coordinate a 50 hour oil change, so the plane is ready to finish, but the weather is once again not allowing us to make much progress. It has been raining or foggy since Saturday morning and we are on our third day down again for weather.

We are nearing the finish and have two days left, but it looks as if we may not be able to fly until Wednesday. We are hopeful to get a flight in tomorrow morning, but will need the forecast to be wrong for that to happen, and unfortunately, the forecasters have been right more than they have been wrong lately. I suppose when we resume, we will be seeing more of what we saw the past few survey days, more water across the landscape, but void of ducks. As far as the duck numbers, they are actually up slightly over last year. Trees are finally starting to produce leaves. It is still a fairly delayed spring and cool temperatures have prevailed with all of the overcast and rain we have been seeing. It appears that more rain is on the way and remaining cool for awhile yet. Check back soon and hopefully we will have finished stratum 45 and will have completed the 2013 survey and can write the final report.

North Dakota is looking better than South Dakota, but probably due to very recent rain.

North Dakota is looking better than South Dakota, but probably due to very recent rain. Photo by Dave Fronczak, US FWS

Recent rains have begun to put water in some of the seasonal wetlands.

Recent rains have begun to put water in some of the seasonal wetlands. Photo by Dave Fronczak, US FWS

Habitat between Jamestown and Minot, North Dakota.

Habitat between Jamestown and Minot, North Dakota. Photo by Dave Fronczak, US FWS

Typical habitat we are encountering in Stratum 46.

Typical habitat we are encountering in Stratum 46. Photo by Dave Fronczak, US FWS