Outdoors briefly

Lake Metigoshe State Park hosts ‘Fun in the Sun’

Lake Metigoshe State Park is having its third annual Fun in the Sun weekend Friday through Sunday. The Fun in the Sun weekend is all about things that folks associate with summer – from beach games and running through sprinklers to making sandcastles and thunderstorms.

On Saturday, from 2 to 4 p.m., visitors can meet at the playground between the modern campgrounds to run through sprinklers, participate in balloon tosses and minnow races. At 8:30 p.m., meet at the beach for some friendly competition associated with the park’s annual Beach Olympics.

On Sunday morning, canoeing adventures take place at 10 a.m. Staff will go over the basics at the park’s warming house and then enjoy a morning on School Section Lake. Equipment is provided. Participants under 18 years of age need to be accompanied by an adult. There will be sandcastle fun and a scavenger hunt taking place at the beach at 1 p.m.

Lake Metigoshe State Park is located 16 miles northeast of Bottineau.

Fort Lincoln hosts Great Western Expo

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park will host the newly created Great Western Exposition July 11-13. The event will showcase the military history of Fort Abraham Lincoln along with saluting North Dakota’s continuing role in the Armed Forces.

The three-day event offers a variety of activities for the whole family. Special features of the event include, a special Friday evening dinner in the Custer House with Gen. Custer and Mrs. Custer as the hosts.

Arts, crafts and food vendors are available all weekend. On Saturday, starting at 4:30 p.m., a community picnic is planned with a free will donation benefiting the N.D. National Guard Foundation. At noon on Sunday, there is a rededication of the Custer House, celebrating 25 years of being part of the state’s legendary story, followed by a special old style wet plate photo session on the front porch of the Custer House.

The highlight of the weekend begins Saturday evening with a special military appreciation ceremony with music from the West River Winds starting at 5:30 p.m. This is followed by a concert on Cavalry Square featuring the music of 32 Below.

Admission to the three-day event is $15 for adults and children ages 13 and older. Kids 12 and under are free.

Spring breeding duck numbers tallied by NDG&F

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual spring breeding duck survey conducted in May showed an index of 4.9 million birds, up 23 percent from last year and 110 percent above the long-term average (1948-2013).

Mike Szymanski, waterfowl biologist, said all species increased from their 2013 estimates, except canvasbacks and ruddy ducks. Redheads (up 64 percent), green-winged teal (up 42 percent), blue-winged teal (up 34 percent), wigeon (up 33 percent) and scaup (up 28 percent) showed the largest increases. Mallards and blue-wings were the most abundant ducks on the survey, combining for 48 percent of the total.

“Some of the later-nesting dabbling duck species, such as blue-wings and shovelers, were just settling into breeding areas, so their counts may have been biased slightly high this year, simply because of a cold spring and their migration lagging behind other birds,” Szymanski said. “Mallards, an early nesting species, were well into nesting and settled on breeding areas. Diving ducks pushed through the state well ahead of the survey, so we feel good about those numbers.”

Duck numbers during the last two decades are the highest since survey records began in 1948. Szymanski said abundant water and good nesting cover have kept breeding duck numbers high. The spring water index increased 110 percent from 2013. The water index is based on basins with water, and does not necessarily represent the amount of water contained in wetlands or the type of wetlands represented. Szymanski said water was more abundant in the northwest and northeast portions of the state. In addition, he said western North Dakota was wetter than average.

The loss of CRP acres was evident during the survey, Szymanski said, as large stretches of land conversion to cropland were obvious. “The loss of grass will hurt production of ducks and other grassland nesting birds,” he added. “However, the recent overly wet conditions are helping bridge the gap a little bit for ducks.”

Szymanski said having a lot of pairs present in May is a good thing. However, the July brood survey will provide a better idea of duck production and insight into expectations for this fall.

Watchable Wildlife photo contest deadline

The deadline for submitting photos to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest is Sept. 30.

The contest has categories for non-game and game species, as well as plants/insects. An overall winning photograph will be chosen, with the number of place winners in each category determined by the number of qualified entries. Contest entries are limited to digital files submitted on disk or via email. Contestants are limited to no more than five entries. Photos must have been taken in North Dakota.

By submitting an entry, photographers grant permission to Game and Fish to publish winning photographs in North Dakota OUTDOORS magazine, and on the Department’s website, (gf.nd.gov).

Photo disks should be sent to Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest, c/o Patrick T. Isakson, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expy., Bismarck, ND 58501-5095. Photo disks will not be returned.