Western Dakotas and Eastern Montana almost finished

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. None of the stock ponds we have seen in Montana are overflowing like many we saw in the Dakota’s. The number of flocked drakes continues to grow. Now we have one day of surveying left and a few days of marginal weather forecast. We hope to finish tomorrow, but we’ll see.

Near Malta (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

Near Malta. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

Fort Peck Lake. (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

Fort Peck Lake. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

More of the Missouri River breaks near CMR NWR. (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

More of the Missouri River breaks near CMR NWR. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

Sunririse just after takeoff from Lewistown. This is over Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

Sunririse just after takeoff from Lewistown. This is over Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

Typical habitat in south and central Montana.(Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

Typical habitat in south and central Montana. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

The Missouri River breaks provided some good scenery and some challenging flying on the windy days. (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

The Missouri River breaks provided some good scenery and some challenging flying on the windy days. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

More typical of the habitat we have seen.(Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

More typical of the habitat we have seen. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

A smattering of stock ponds make up the bulk of the water in the central and southern part of the state and in most cases, they are not full. (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

A smattering of stock ponds make up the bulk of the water in the central and southern part of the state and in most cases, they are not full. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

There are many miles of habitat that look like this.  (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

There are many miles of habitat that look like this. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

The Big Sky state is also the Big Dry state.  (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

The Big Sky state is also the Big Dry state. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

Most of the water we see is a result of afternoon or overnight thunder storms and will quickly dry up. (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

Most of the water we see is a result of afternoon or overnight thunder storms and will quickly dry up. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

What basins we have seen have typically been dry.(Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

What basins we have seen have typically been dry. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

Some puddling has occurred after daily thunder storms, but it is not quite enough and a little too late. (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

Some puddling has occurred after daily thunder storms, but it is not quite enough and a little too late. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

In most segments, we see more antelope than waterfowl! (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

In most segments, we see more antelope than waterfowl! Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

The mountain ranges are good for brewing up afternoon thunderstorms and we usually have to skirt one or two on the way home every day. (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

The mountain ranges are good for brewing up afternoon thunderstorms and we usually have to skirt one or two on the way home every day. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

This is about as much water as we see in many miles. This is about as good as it gets in any one place and these places are miles apart. (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

This is about as much water as we see in many miles. This is about as good as it gets in any one place and these places are miles apart. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

This is near the end of a line in central Montana. As with most lines here in Montana, they end at the end of the prairie and the begiining of the mountains when flying to the west. (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

This is near the end of a line in central Montana. As with most lines here in Montana, they end at the end of the prairie and the begiining of the mountains when flying to the west. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

It is pretty green but since the snow melt, there hasn't been a lot of precipitation with the exception of thunder showers. (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

It is pretty green but since the snow melt, there hasn't been a lot of precipitation with the exception of thunder showers. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

Near Fort Peck Lake in central Montana. This is pretty typical habitat in the central and south part of the state and it is pretty dry this year. (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

Near Fort Peck Lake in central Montana. This is pretty typical habitat in the central and south part of the state and it is pretty dry this year. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

There isn't a lot of natural water in south and central Montana. These stock ponds are the typical water and they aren't the best for waterfowl. (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

There isn't a lot of natural water in south and central Montana. These stock ponds are the typical water and they aren't the best for waterfowl. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

Flying down the Canadian/US border (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

Flying down the Canadian/US border Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

Recent rain greened everthing up nice along the border, but not many full ponds or basins. (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

Recent rain greened everthing up nice along the border, but not many full ponds or basins. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

North of Malta and looking dry (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

North of Malta and looking dry. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

Another shot along the border (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

Another shot along the border. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

Puddling from rain the last 2 days, too little too late.(Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

Puddling from rain the last 2 days, too little too late. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

Even the stock ponds are low in Montana (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

Even the stock ponds are low in Montana. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

A look at northeast Montana (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

A look at northeast Montana. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS

Typical NE Montana habitat (Credit:  Terry Liddick, USFWS)

Typical NE Montana habitat. Credit: Terry Liddick, USFWS