In August, Ducks Unlimited technicians will begin the second round of brood surveys in the Bakken oil field. They have completed the first two weeks of the brood survey in this area of the Prairie Pothole Region. The technicians are now compiling the data they found in the first round. The survey will end on August 15.
After this second survey the techs start another two-week period of data entry. These two-week periods give the technicians time to recover from the early mornings and late nights they have while conducting the surveys.
The first round of surveys showed many blue-winged teal and mallard broods, while encountering a few northern shoveler and wigeon broods. This year's dry conditions in the Missouri Coteau of North Dakota have meant many of the smaller basins are now dried-up, leaving only the larger basins with water.
When the smaller wetlands go dry, it gives them a chance to restart their natural vegetation cycle. It is crucial that these seasonal wetlands dry up throughout their lifetime. Many of these wetlands need a few dry years to reboot their productivity of small aquatic invertebrates, which provide important protein to nesting hens.
Usually the second round of the brood survey brings more diversity because of the species, such as gadwall and lesser scaup that show up later to the breeding grounds. This can make the technician's job tougher with more diversity of species to observe and write down.
For more information about the Bakken research go to www.ducks.org/pprresearch.