Western Dakotas and Eastern Montana

Fast Start in the Western Dakotas!

Western Dakotas and Eastern Montana
Written by Kammie Kruse
Saturday, May 14, 2011

Photo of Kammie Kruse.I have spent the previous 9 years working on the Eastern Dakotas ground crew, but this year I have moved over to run the Western Dakotas and Eastern Montana ground crew. I had always heard that the two crew areas were quite different in habitat and types of wetlands and now I have seen it firsthand. In the Eastern Dakotas crew area there are a lot of natural wetlands and dugouts. The Western Dakotas and Eastern Montana crew area is dominated by artificial wetlands (stock ponds), and there are more river drainages.

Still Waiting on the Rain

Western Dakotas and Eastern Montana
Written by Jon Klimstra
Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Photo of Jon Klimstra.I’m the aerial observer for Shawn Bayless. Currently we are in Dickinson, North Dakota and have been down due to weather the last two days. Today it is raining heavily with the forecast for up to 2-3 inches.

Survey Started Fast—and Now We Wait

Western Dakotas and Eastern Montana
Written by Shawn Bayless
Monday, May 09, 2011

Shawn Bayless

On May 5, my observer Jon Klimstra and I got the 2011 survey off to a quick start in the western Dakotas. We’ve flown transects every day until now, and have completed all the North and South Dakota strata in our crew area.

Western Dakota’s and Eastern Montana Survey Complete

Western Dakotas and Eastern Montana
Written by Terry Liddick
Monday, May 24, 2010

Terry LiddickIt has taken longer than most years, but the Western Dakota’s and Eastern Montana survey is finally complete. We battled rain and wind early on while in Pierre, SD, and that delayed us substantially. Once we got past Pierre and southwestern SD, however, things improved. We had a few more weather days after that, but never more than one at a time. Yesterday, staying with the theme of the month, we raced Mother Nature and were fortunate to complete the survey.

Western Dakotas and Eastern Montana almost finished

Western Dakotas and Eastern Montana
Written by Terry Liddick
Sunday, May 23, 2010

Terry LiddickWell, we squeaked one in today and are now nearly finished with the 2010 survey of this crew area. Montana is still looking pretty dry, even with the recent rain. We were down again yesterday and today it cleared just enough to get a flight in. The wind also just hung in there. We flew the high line along the Canadian/US border from due north of Malta to the North Dakota border. We also flew from the ND border west to Havre City, MT. Everything is still pretty dry, even with all the recent rain. There are not a lot of natural basins in the region to begin with and many of them are dry or do not contain enough water to persist through the brooding period. There are a few stock ponds, and they too are still low, even with the recent rain.

Ground crew on the homestretch

Western Dakotas and Eastern Montana
Written by Kathy Fleming
Friday, May 21, 2010

Kathy FlemingWe are in Malta, Montana, about 20 miles south of the US/Canadian border. Tomorrow we will start the first of our two survey lines that run along the border. Yesterday it rained hard for several hours here, and we're not sure how wet the survey line will be. All of it is off-road, and in several places we have to cross streams or wetlands. Hopefully today's sun will help dry it out in time for our survey tomorrow. After we finish the two border lines we will head back to Maryland.

Ground crew report: good weather and decent habitat

Western Dakotas and Eastern Montana
Written by Kathy Fleming
Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kathy FlemingWe now have had 4 days of counting ducks with great weather. Today we finished 2 air-ground segments in southeastern Montana. This is the most rugged and dry landscape we survey on the ground - if it weren't for the stock dams and dugouts there would be very little water out here, as most of the creeks are dry. We have seen several ducks and geese with broods, and flushed a hen mallard off the nest today. But we have also seen blue-winged teal engaged in courtship and pairing behavior. Overall, the habitat conditions we have seen have been pretty good, average or a bit above average for this crew area.

Weather cooperating: Western Dakotas wet; Southern Montana dry

Western Dakotas and Eastern Montana
Written by Terry Liddick
Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Terry LiddickAfter a very delayed start due to weather in Pierre, SD, we are finally making a little progress. We only got to fly one day in our first ten. Then we put two days in a row together in Dickinson, ND, followed by another weather day. We have now flown a string of 5 days in a row! We finished most of the Dakotas on the 14th. There was one survey line left to do when we departed the morning of the 15th and we managed to get a line into Montana as well that day, moving over to Lewistown. We have had great weather since arriving in Lewistown, with the exception of a little wind and skirting some early afternoon thundershowers on the way home. We have now finished most of southern Montana and should move north to Malta tomorrow.

Bad weather slowing us down

Western Dakotas and Eastern Montana
Written by Terry Liddick
Thursday, May 13, 2010

Terry LiddickWell, it is the 13th of May and we are sitting again because of bad weather. We arrived in Pierre, SD on 30 April and Mother Nature didn’t treat us very well. We got in one day of reconnaissance 3 days later and were not able to fly the first day of the survey until May 8th. If the wind wasn’t blowing 30-50 MPH, it was raining. We finally got out of Pierre on May 11th in less than optimal conditions, but good enough to fly 2 survey lines on the way to Dickinson, ND. We managed to fly two more lines yesterday, May 12th, but again, had to wait a few hours in the morning for weather (fog mostly) to lift. Again today, until the weather clears out of Dickinson this morning, it will still be raining to the east near Bismarck, where we need to go.

Weather delays start of survey

Western Dakotas and Eastern Montana
Written by Kathy Fleming
Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Kathy FlemingJon Klimstra and I arrived in Pierre, South Dakota, on May 1st, to meet up with Terry Liddick and Mike Rabe, the pilot-biologist and observer who will be conducting the Montana/Western Dakotas aerial survey this year. This is my fourth year on the ground crew in this crew area. It is sobering to be here this year without Ray Bentley, the pilot-biologist who was killed in January when his plane crashed in Oregon coming back from mid-winter surveys. Ray had flown this survey for many years and was an expert, not only in managing the logistics of this crew area, but was also a font of information on where to stay, what to eat, and interesting things to do when there was extra time. We will miss him on this survey.

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