Grassland units completed

Written by Phil Thorpe
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Photo of Phil Thorpe.We are grounded today because of weather, but we have completed 5 days of surveying to date. Conditions continue to be much better than last year on the areas we’ve seen so far. There are exceptions, of course. The Missouri Coteau north of Moose Jaw is mostly dry again this year, and there are even some dry stock ponds near the Alberta border. However, conditions throughout the southeast corner of the region are excellent, grading into good or fair as you move into the southwest corner.  And in nearly all cases, they are wetter than they were in 2008.

Willow Bunch Reservoir was totally dry last year, but this year it is full of water. We are seeing a lot of pintails in the grasslands. This is good news, because pintails are more productive when they nest in the grasslands. In dry years, pintails fly further north to nest. While it is too early to predict nest success, it looks like it could be a good year for pintails.

A view from the cockpit of modern day pintail habitat.  Photo by P. Thorpe (USFWS)

New water on the landscape.

Dry basins in the Missouri Coteau.  Photo by P. Thorpe (USFWS)

Composite image of changes to area.