Ground crew report: good weather and decent habitat

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.

Tonight we are staying at the Fort Peck Hotel near Fort Peck Dam. The hotel is an historic building that was used for housing for the men who built the dam back in the 1930s. One interesting feature of the hotel is the game birds and mammals displayed on the walls (most mounted by the owner himself). We noticed a mount of a banded mallard on the mantle with a USGS band report card below. The bird had been banded by Ray Bentley in Alberta, and shot in Montana by the owner. This was another of Ray's contributions to waterfowl management, as well as those of all the pilot-biologists and banding crews that continue to band birds each fall. (See more information on waterfowl banding efforts on the Banding and Marking Programs section of this website).

A full stockdam near Pierre, South Dakota. (Credit: Kathy Fleming, USFWS)

A full stockdam near Pierre, South Dakota. Credit: Kathy Fleming, USFWS

Jon Klimstra at the beginning of our first airground segment outside Pierre. (Credit: Kathy Fleming, USFWS)

Jon Klimstra at the beginning of our first airground segment outside Pierre. Credit: Kathy Fleming, USFWS

We flushed a mallard hen off this nest near Lefor, North Dakota. (Credit: Kathy Fleming, USFWS)

We flushed a mallard hen off this nest near Lefor, North Dakota. Credit: Kathy Fleming, USFWS

This banded mallard was on display in the Ft. Peck Hotel.  It had been banded by Ray Bentley in Alberta in 2003, and shot in Fort Peck, Montana in 2006. (Credit: Kathy Fleming, USFWS)

This banded mallard was on display in the Ft. Peck Hotel. It had been banded by Ray Bentley in Alberta in 2003, and shot in Fort Peck, Montana in 2006. Credit: Kathy Fleming, USFWS