Survey Started Fast—and Now We Wait

Written by Shawn Bayless
Monday, May 09, 2011

Shawn Bayless

On May 5, my observer Jon Klimstra and I got the 2011 survey off to a quick start in the western Dakotas. We’ve flown transects every day until now, and have completed all the North and South Dakota strata in our crew area.

Today we are sitting in a motel in Dickinson, ND, waiting for a rather large low pressure system to pass. Weather guessers are forecasting 1-3" of rain today and tomorrow throughout the survey area, so it gives us a chance to catch up on reporting.

Wetland habitat conditions thus far have generally been good to excellent, with good numbers of mallards, pintails, blue-winged teal and gadwall. Upland habitat conditions appear to be good as well, and will certainly benefit from the weather system currently plaguing our survey efforts. While flooded roads and farmyards in the Missouri Coteau of central North Dakota are certainly a good sign for nesting waterfowl, we can't help but sympathize with local residents suffering from flooded basements, travel restrictions and delayed farming operations.

Nesting efforts of the early nesting species appear to be on track, particularly in South Dakota and southern transects of North Dakota. However, we are seeing large groups of blue-winged teal in North Dakota, suggesting nesting phenology of the later species might be delayed somewhat. Substantial snow drifts in coulees and pond margins remain in North Dakota, as well.