Eastern Dakotas

Ground Crew: Mid-season nesters getting started

Eastern Dakotas
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.

Conditions slightly better than 2008

Eastern Dakotas
Written by John Solberg and Thom Lewis
Saturday, May 09, 2009

John Solberg. Photo by Roger Gable/Wright Bros. Aviation, LTD.We completed our 5th day of flying today. We were grounded for 2 days because of high winds. It was gusting up to 50 mph in portions of the survey unit. In general, habitat conditions are fair south of Huron, SD. We even encountered some poor conditions in the extreme southeastern portion of the state. Conditions get better further west. Generally, I would rate overall conditions fair to good between Huron and Aberdeen. Overall, conditions in the areas surveyed thus far are improved since 2008. It has been a late, cool spring. It is supposed to warm up next week, which will trigger rapid vegetation growth. That will be highly beneficial to nesting waterfowl.

2009 survey of the Eastern Dakotas begins

Eastern Dakotas
Written by John Solberg and Thom Lewis
Saturday, May 09, 2009

Photo of John Solberg by Roger Gebel/Wright Bros. Aviation, LTD.My observer Thom Lewis and I began the 2009 survey by flying out of Mitchell, SD. We would have started yesterday, but we had significant wind and rain, so we delayed a day. Today we surveyed between Mitchell, SD and the Nebraska border. Wetland conditions in this area are slightly improved since 2008, but were not as wet as I expected. All waterfowl species were present and early nesting species (mallards and pintails) are "getting down to business."

Ground survey started in Eastern Dakotas

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Pam Garrettson
Friday, May 08, 2009

Pam Garrettson.We’re getting started with our survey today, about 3 days later than average. John Solberg, the pilot biologist for this crew area, delayed the start a few days because spring was late. The survey should begin once the early nesting species (in this area, that’s mallards and pintails) are well into nesting, and the mid- to late-nesters are on territories or even beginning to nest. To ensure that this happens, John and his observer make reconnaissance flights and note the pairing status of the local birds. While females are on the nest, males sit alone or in small groups on nearby ponds. So when you begin observing many birds as lone males rather than as male-female pairs, that’s an indication that species has begun nesting. Females spend more time on the nest each day as they move further into laying (a typical clutch is 8-12 eggs) and incubation, and that is reflected in the number of lone males seen.

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