Day 44: A look from above

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No, I don’t mean Divine Intervention (although that may be what it takes to salvage this duck season for us). Reports around here haven’t changed much this weekend, so we though we’d let you hear from Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries duck leader Larry Reynolds, who talks about the most recent aerial waterfowl surveys in our region. Here’s what he had to say today about all the poor duck hunting reports:

“That seems to be the status most places in the state with reports of tough hunting far outnumbering the good reports I’m getting.  Even those making solid bags are having to work for them, change up tactics, and be persistent late into the day. We completed the NE LA aerial waterfowl survey Wednesday, and my crew reported only 106,000 ducks and 88,000 geese.  That is a HUGE drop-off compared to 240,000 ducks and 36,000Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 3.53.15 PM geese in November, and 363,000 ducks and 199,000 geese in December!  Counts were lower in nearly every surveyed area, but declines were especially evident in the ag fields between Bonita and Mer Rouge and those in the Bunkie/Grand Cote area. 

Remember that we are flying the same 30 survey areas,  so it is possible that with all the water all over the state, large numbers of birds could have moved to unsurveyed areas, especially in central Louisiana.  Early-January surveys in other states have shown lower than average numbers of ducks in Arkansas, about average in Mississippi, and over twice the average in Missouri.

I’ve not yet crunched the numbers to generate the estimates, but we saw fewer birds everywhere we went on the coastal transects as well, except in the Delacroix area.  Fewer ducks in Upper Terrebonne, fewer ducks south of the Lake Salvador, fewer ducks at the mouth of the MS River.  Again, there is a lot of un-surveyed habitat north of I-10 in SW Louisiana and around Lake Pontchartrain, but there was clearly a decline in the number of birds from the December survey.  Even the scaup survey on Lakes Pontchartrain, Borgne and Maurepas showed a decline from 78,000 in December to only 48,000 in January.”

Banded