Eastern Dakotas

Eastern Dakotas Survey Completed

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Terry Liddick
Thursday, May 26, 2011

Terry LiddickThe Eastern Dakota’s survey area is complete and it looked nothing less than spectacular. It is probably wetter than it has ever been and wetlands throughout the Dakota’s were at least 100% full. The duck numbers were just as spectacular! After nearly 7,000 miles of flying across the eastern Dakota’s, we observed excellent conditions throughout the survey area. With the exception of the Red River Valley, which is pretty well drained and tiled (and yet still had puddled water in remnant wetlands), conditions were judged to be mostly excellent. Wetland basins were full to over-full throughout the survey area. The wet conditions should certainly persist well through the brooding season and more rain is coming. It doesn’t get any better for the ducks!

It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Pam Garrettson
Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pam Garrettson.I didn’t change the time on my watch when I got here, which is how I found myself up at 4 a.m. one day, thinking it was 5—which it was—on the East Coast. OK, that wasn’t smart, but on the areas that the US and Canadian ground crews survey, keeping track of time can be complex. We are nearing the end of the survey, working out of Bismarck, ND. It’s on Central Time, but just across the Missouri River it’s an hour earlier, same as Montana and the "west river" portion of South Dakota. Daylight savings time is another complication, especially in Canada. Saskatchewan doesn’t switch to daylight time; so it’s always Central Standard Time (CST) there. During the winter, that’s the same time as Manitoba, but right now, the same as Alberta or Montana, currently on Mountain Daylight Time (MDT). Unless you are in Lloydminster (SK), which does switch, and honestly, I don’t know what time it is there.

Eastern Dakotas Ground Crew: Wide Open Spaces

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Pam Garrettson
Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pam Garrettson.This past week we finished 4 of the 8 air-grounds that are in North Dakota, including Danzig and Streeter, among the most beautiful country that we survey. They are located in the Coteau, which features steep hills (primarily used to graze cattle) and large, deep wetlands ringed with cattails. These more permanent wetlands are used by diving ducks, as well the dabbling ducks we had already been seeing in abundance on the flatter Drift Prairie (DP). Redheads, canvasbacks and ruddy ducks build their nests over water in emergent vegetation. Compared to tilled row crops, pastures provide more of the upland grass cover used by dabbling ducks for nesting. In particular, we counted many more pintails on the Coteau than on the DP, and they will readily nest in sparse cover, even in pastures that are heavily grazed.

Eastern Dakotas Survey Nears the Finish Line

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Terry Liddick
Friday, May 20, 2011

Terry LiddickWe are nearing the end of the survey for the eastern Dakota’s and so far everything is looking like it will be a great year for waterfowl production in this crew area. Yesterday we finished all of the flying we have to do out of Jamestown, North Dakota, and that included all of the transects up to near Devil’s Lake. We have had a pretty good run of weather and managed to get in 5 consecutive days of flying. But, all good things must come to an end as they say. We are now down for the next several days for a combination of things. First and foremost is a mandatory airplane inspection and the second is weather.

Eastern Dakotas Ground Crew: Talk of the Town

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Pam Garrettson
Friday, May 13, 2011

Pam Garrettson.Most of our air-ground survey segments are on private lands, whose landowners are really nice about granting permission to count ducks on their land. Some are especially welcoming. The other day, a woman let us put Josh’s truck in her farmyard to keep it safe for the day, and a few years ago, a man returned a magnetic “duck survey” sign that had fallen off our truck the year before. Over the past few days, we have talked with quite a few folks. A big thank-you to everyone; we really appreciate it, and couldn’t do our part of the survey without you.

Eastern Dakotas Survey Started—But Now Delayed

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Terry Liddick
Thursday, May 12, 2011

Terry LiddickWell, here we are in Aberdeen, South Dakota. We completed 4 days of survey flying right off the bat, but today we are sitting for the third day in weather that this region probably needs no more of: rain. Much like you see on the news for the Mississippi River region, this area probably doesn’t need any more of that for a while! Conditions are excellent over southeastern South Dakota. Virtually all of the wetland basins are full to overflowing and the James River is well outside its banks. Many roads and bridges are under water. Leaves are just starting to appear on the trees and vegetation is starting to green up. It is definitely a late spring with temperatures slightly below normal.

Eastern Dakotas Ground Crew: Mud on the Tires

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Pam Garrettson
Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pam Garrettson.We found the water we were expecting as we moved north to Brookings, SD. Some of the roads on our Oldham air-ground segment were impassable, and there was water over the causeway on highway 81. Blue-winged teal respond strongly to wet conditions, so it is no surprise they are the ducks we have seen most frequently. Pintails are particularly responsive to water, but we have seen relatively few; perhaps they have settled further north in the southern Canadian Prairie Provinces, which are also very wet.

Eastern Dakotas Ground Crew Getting Started, with Some Notes on Shorebird Sex

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Pam Garrettson and Chris Nicolai
Sunday, May 08, 2011

Pam Garrettson.We have completed our two southernmost air-ground segments, located in southern South Dakota. Although the nearby James River is at flood stage, those air-ground segments typically don’t hold too much water. The timing of spring seems a bit late; we haven’t seen too many lone males that would indicate that females are nesting or incubating. Moreover, we haven’t yet seen many gadwall and ruddy ducks, the latest nesters in the Eastern Dakotas. However, shorebirds, both migrants and area breeders, are abundant, foraging in wet fields and mudflats.

Let the Circle be Unbroken - Back to the Eastern Dakotas Survey

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Terry Liddick
Friday, April 29, 2011

Terry Liddick

This year's survey planning began about three years ago. In February 2008, I began my career as a Flyway Biologist trainee. My first assignment, the day I started, was to serve as the observer for the initial sea duck survey along the Atlantic coast. That was my initial exposure to low level survey flying. It was fairly benign considering we were flying over open ocean and there were not a lot of obstacles out there! It got a little more exciting a few months later when I was assigned as John Solberg's aerial observer for the 2008 Breeding Population and Habitat Survey (BPOP) in the eastern Dakotas.

All hail breaks loose, but Eastern Dakotas ground crew finishes 2010 survey

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Pam Garrettson
Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pam Garrettson.We pay a lot more attention to the weather when the air crew is scheduled to do one of our air-ground segments. The rigor and potential hazards of low-level aerial surveys means their upper limits for wind and precipitation are lower than ours, and we can’t cover the segment until after they do. John and Pete finished up yesterday, so I merely glanced at the forecast for today. Scattered thunderstorms in the morning, then some wind, but not until late afternoon. No problem, right? Except the thunderstorms were scattered right over the segment we needed to do. We sat in the truck and waited out some spectacular cloud-to-ground lightning, napped, played electronic scrabble (Kammie remains undefeated) or did crossword puzzles.

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