Ground Crew: Mid-season nesters getting started

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Written by Eastern Dakotas Ground Crew
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We finished our 4th day of air-ground survey work yesterday. Today we were on hold because of high wind conditions, so we’re catching up on some paperwork and making preparations to hit it hard as soon as the weather lets up. Conditions are still on the dry side, but we hear that conditions will get wetter as we move north.

We are starting to see more lone drake blue-winged teal and shovelers, which means these mid-season nesters are getting started. Of the five major dabbling duck species breeding here, gadwall begin the latest, and we are still observing almost all of them as pairs. A gadwall hen did flush from the grass as I walked a fencerow, but I found no nest.  Likely she was searching for a spot, but not yet nesting. We have found a few active mallard nests, one well into incubation. We saw a lot of skunks (4 total) yesterday, perhaps because that air-ground segment has several abandoned farmsteads which they often use as den sites. Skunks are omnivorous, and one of the many things they eat is duck eggs. Even so, they are among my favorite wildlife, and I always enjoy seeing them. One of our crew had a particularly close encounter, but fortunately for him (and the rest of us), he came away from the experience “unscented.”

Samantha Gibbs scanning a wetland, southeastern South Dakota, 2009.  Photo by Kammie Kruse.

A pair of redheads near the Hammer, SD airground, 2009.  Photo by Kammie Kruse.