Weather cooperating: Western Dakotas wet; Southern Montana dry

Written by Terry Liddick
Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Terry LiddickAfter a very delayed start due to weather in Pierre, SD, we are finally making a little progress. We only got to fly one day in our first ten. Then we put two days in a row together in Dickinson, ND, followed by another weather day. We have now flown a string of 5 days in a row! We finished most of the Dakotas on the 14th. There was one survey line left to do when we departed the morning of the 15th and we managed to get a line into Montana as well that day, moving over to Lewistown. We have had great weather since arriving in Lewistown, with the exception of a little wind and skirting some early afternoon thundershowers on the way home. We have now finished most of southern Montana and should move north to Malta tomorrow.

So far, conditions in the western Dakota’s are looking the best we have seen in our survey area. There is a good amount of water and most of the basins and wetlands are full. Southern Montana, on the other hand, is extremely dry. There is not going to be much production out of the southern half of the state. We are quite a way behind where we should be at this point due to the weather problems we had at the beginning, and when we do see ducks, it is mostly flocked drakes, which indicates our tardiness. We cannot control Mother Nature, however. We hear that conditions are better north of here, and we hope to see that in the coming days.

Typical habitat in stratum 44 near Sturgis, SD(Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

Typical habitat in stratum 44 near Sturgis, SD. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

Typical wetland in stratum 44 in South Dakota (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

Typical wetland in stratum 44 in South Dakota. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

Dry basins in Stratum 44(Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

Dry basins in Stratum 44. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

Dryer area nearing Spearfish, SD (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

Dryer area nearing Spearfish, SD. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

Northwest of Pierre, SD (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

Northwest of Pierre, SD. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

West of Pierre, SD  (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

West of Pierre, SD. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

Missouri River south of Pierre (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

Missouri River south of Pierre. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

Flying east towards Pierre (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

Flying east towards Pierre. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS