Eastern Dakotas

Survey Halted - But For Good Reason

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Terry Liddick
Monday, May 20, 2013

Terry LiddickWell, the Eastern Dakota’s crew has come to a screeching halt. We were making pretty good progress, only losing one day to weather as we completed South Dakota. We moved from Mitchell to Aberdeen on the 11th of May. We sat for a day in Aberdeen due to high winds, but quickly resumed and completed South Dakota on the 15th. Conditions improved slightly as we moved north, but despite record snow over the winter and particularly during April, South Dakota remains dry. The coteau regions of the state are pretty good and should produce ducks, but production will be minimal in the drift plain, where it is very dry with most seasonal wetlands void of water.

Eastern Dakotas Ground Crew Making Good Progress

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Kammie Kruse
Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Photo of Kammie Kruse.The ground crew for the Eastern Dakotas crew area is off and running. We have one more transect to go in South Dakota and then we move on to North Dakota. I (Kammie Kruse, Wildlife Biologist with the Central Flyway in Denver, CO), am returning for my 11th survey on the Eastern Dakotas ground crew. I am joined this year by Joe Sands (Wildlife Biologist, Portland OR), James Hoskins (Biological Technician, Buffalo Lakes NWR, Texas) and Terry Quesinberry (Fish and Wildlife Biologist, Pierre, SD). Due to the late spring winter storms, the survey got a later start than expected, because cold weather and snow in the Dakotas and Canada delayed the spring migration. My first impression is that the wet conditions we have been experiencing the past few years seems to be tilting toward much drier conditions this year. Let's hope the habitat conditions are better in North Dakota.

2013 Breeding Population and Habitat Survey Begins!

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Terry Liddick
Sunday, May 05, 2013

Terry LiddickWell, we are off and counting. The Eastern Dakotas crew met in Mitchell, SD, on May 5th. This year the aircrew is once again Terry Liddick as the pilot and Dave Fronczak as the observer. This will mark the 3rd consecutive year we have been the aircrew for the E Dakotas. Kammie Kruse is once again the ground crew leader and this year she is joined by an all new crew consisting of James Hoskins, Joe Sands and Terry Quesinberry.

Eastern Dakotas Wrapped Up

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Kammie Kruse
Saturday, May 19, 2012

Photo of Kammie Kruse.We wrapped up the ground survey for the Eastern Dakotas crew area today in the northwest part of North Dakota. It was interesting because part of the transect was drier than it has been in past few years, but then we got to the middle of the segment and suddenly there was a lake across the road. In my 10 years of conducting the survey on this Air-Ground, we have never been flooded out in this area! Once we got around the flooded area and came in from the west side, we encountered lots of diving ducks, gadwalls, pintails and mallards, that must have been attracted to the flooded wetlands that actually had expanded over cropland. It just goes to show that is why we do these surveys every year, because the habitat and duck distribution are always changing. My overall impression from this year of counting ducks from the ground is that we counted a lot of ducks, but in fewer wetlands than in the past couple years. I could not believe how many ducks some of these small wetlands were holding….blue-winged teal galore.

Eastern Dakotas are Complete

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Terry Liddick
Friday, May 18, 2012

Terry LiddickWell, after a rainy and windy start, we were able to complete the eastern Dakota’s survey area on May 17th! Since our last blog, when we were moving from Aberdeen, SD, to Jamestown, ND, we only lost one day to weather and flew 11 out the past 12 days! That is the upside, well, that and the fact that we are finished with the survey. The downside is North Dakota continued to be as dry as we first witnessed as I flew from Aberdeen to Jamestown. Habitat conditions in North Dakota are not as good as South Dakota, and they weren’t great in South Dakota!

Weather is Challenging

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Terry Liddick
Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Terry LiddickIt’s the 9th of May and after daily struggles with weather, we finally finished South Dakota and moved up to Jamestown, ND. We were planning an early start this year—the first time the survey would have ever started in April. However, as kind as Mother Nature was over the winter and early spring, she started providing some much needed rain in April, and so far, May too. The first day of the survey was supposed to be 29 April. We were delayed by weather and finally flew the first day on 1 May, albeit only 1 segment (18 miles) before rain and low ceilings along with rapidly increasing winds forced an early return to Mitchell. We were able to fly again the next day, but were unable to fly the eastern-most 2 segments on the two most southern lines when once again, we ran into a wall of fog and low ceilings.

Amazing Courtship Flights

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Steve Olson
Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Photo of Steve Olson.When I was a kid growing up in Sartell, Minnesota, I used to see a lot of courtship flights among ducks along the Mississippi River. I used to wonder what that was all about. It was only when I worked for Ducks Unlimited in North Dakota one summer, during my undergraduate college program, that I finally put it all together. This entry chronicles both an epic and essential act of duck biology, and I hope will stir the feelings we all have as duck hunters, birders, biologists, and humans.

Hurry Up - Then Wait

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Kammie Kruse
Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Photo of Kammie Kruse.The early spring had us all scrambling to move up our travel plans to participate on the ground crew for the Eastern Dakotas survey area. Unfortunately, all good plans can always be spoiled by Mother Nature, and after hurrying to get into the field, we were weathered out our first 2 days. But we finally got our first Air-Ground Transect under our belts on May 1st. This is my 10th year participating on the Eastern Dakotas ground crew and I took over the crew leader responsibilities. Last year I went over to the Western Dakotas/Eastern Montana crew area to learn a new area and see how the survey is conducted over there. It was a big change over there but I was very interested to get back to the Eastern Dakotas and see how the wetlands looked after the record high water year last summer that were greatly diminished by the mild fall and winter.

Back to the Eastern Dakotas

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Terry Liddick
Monday, April 30, 2012

Terry LiddickThe 2012 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey is upon us and we are ready to go. This year, the aircrew is the same as 2011, with myself as the pilot for the second year in the Eastern Dakotas and joined again by Dave Fronczak as the observer. I am pleased to have Dave back and we are looking forward to a great survey. The ground crew will be led this year by Kammie Kruse, who has many years of experience on the eastern Dakotas’ ground crew. Survey preparations began several months ago as I began watching the weather over what was an extremely mild and dry winter. I put my plane into maintenance on the 1st of April to prepare it with a fresh inspection.

Eastern Dakotas Survey Finished - Time To Go Home

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Pam Garrettson
Monday, May 30, 2011

Pam Garrettson.We finished the ground portion of the survey that cuts through Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) near the Canadian border last Friday. In fact we stayed there the night before, in refuge housing graciously provided by manager Tom Pabian and by maintenance worker Larry Clowse, who worked hard on repairs, as the housing had been damaged by severe winter weather. The housing consists of former FEMA trailers, left over from the 1997 flooding of Grand Forks, ND. Ironically, the refuge contains the dam that controls the flow of the Souris River, and downstream, residents of Minot were working hard to build sandbag dikes in preparation for additional water releases that would likely be necessary. Already a torrent flowed through the control structure.

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