Done for the Year—Not as Good as 2011

Written by Shawn Bayless
Thursday, May 17, 2012

Shawn BaylessJon and I finished the last transect today and are headed home tomorrow. Habitat conditions since we arrived in central Montana have been poor to fair. All temporary and seasonal basins are dry, most type III and type IV wetlands are only half full, and most stock ponds are, at most, only half full. As one would expect, we counted ducks on existing water, but I think it is safe to say production here will be less than normal. Additionally, many CRP fields have been sprayed and/or burned preparatory to tillage, which obviously does not bode well for any upland nesting birds.

Overall, and considering the western Dakotas, my impression is our side of the border will contribute far fewer birds to the fall flight than the last several years. On the bright side, wetlands require both wet and dry cycles to remain healthy and productive. As such, we should appreciate the opportunity these wetlands will have this year to recycle nutrients in the form of annual plants and hope for the best next year...

Chief Mountain on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.

Chief Mountain on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. Photo by Jon Klimstra, US FWS

The prairie runs into the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.

The prairie runs into the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. Photo by Jon Klimstra, US FWS

A beautiful end to the 2012 survey in Montana!

A beautiful end to the 2012 survey in Montana! Photo by Jon Klimstra, US FWS