Weather delays start of survey

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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.

We went out the first day to practice classifying pond types (artificial vs. natural, streams vs. semi-permanent ponds, etc.), and brush up on estimating the 200 m distance from the road we would be surveying. Due to high winds and rain, the start of our survey has been delayed for 5 days. There is a fair amount of water on the landscape in this area right now -- but mostly in stock dams and farm ponds, because the hilly topography doesn't retain much water in natural ponds. We will start the survey tomorrow morning if the weather cooperates.

Kathy Fleming and Jon Klimstra (Credit: Kathy Fleming, USFWS)

Kathy Fleming and Jon Klimstra Credit: Kathy Fleming, USFWS