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‘I’m not sure where all the ducks are,’ Aaron Yetter’s blog

Aaron Yetter’s blog off the weekly aerial waterfowl survey muses on where all the ducks are

Resized/Sun-Times
There should be more ducks in this photo during Thanksgiving week.
Aaron Yetter/Illinois Natural History Survey

It’s the duck hunter’s version of “Waiting for Godot,” this waiting on mallards to show up in force. But Aaron Yetter, who flies the weekly aerial waterfowl surveys, also wondered if the blizzard to our north may push some south to us.

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Here is Yetter’s latest blog:

November 27th, 2019 – Aerial Waterfowl Inventory Blog

We flew the waterfowl survey last Monday, November 25th, 2019 because of the extreme winds that were predicted in the middle of the week. The weather forecasters were correct and that wind was brutal on Wednesday. Duck numbers on the Illinois River were very similar to last week. We estimated 176,655 total ducks, which was 28% below the 10-yr average. Mallard numbers (101,030) were also 36% below normal for the week of Thanksgiving. The Mississippi River was a similar story when we observed a mere 229,030 ducks this week; 59% below average. Mallards were down 55% from average and only totaled 134,790. Most of the hunting reports I am getting from the field indicate slow to dismal hunting. Let’s hope that picks up soon.

I am not sure where all the ducks are. Large concentrations of mallards are usually observed around Thanksgiving at Ted Shanks, Clarence Cannon, and the refuges at Cuivre, Dardenne, and Long Lake in Missouri, as well as, Senachwine, Douglas, Goose, and Big lakes, Chautauqua NWR, Emiquon, and the Cuba Island complex along the Illinois River. Don’t get me wrong, these refuges have ducks; just not the large concentrations that are “normal” for this time of year. I have heard reports of significant numbers of mallards to the north, but this blizzard should be making them pack their bags. And, we haven’t peaked yet on Canvasbacks on Pool 19 of the Mississippi River. Yesterday, Mississippi’s November waterfowl count came out https://www.mdwfp.com/media/257943/nov-2019-aerial-survey-report.pdf. Mallard numbers were below average in the Mississippi Delta, but total ducks were above the 2007-2018 average. I guess these mallards will show up sometime, but let’s hope sooner than later!

You should check out Ducks Unlimited’s Podcasts featured at https://www.ducks.org/dupodcast. Dr. Mike Brasher and Chris Jennings are doing a great job with their podcasts on a variety of topics in the waterfowl realm. The clips are short and sweet and very informative. I guess that’s about all I have for this week. Enjoy the long Thanksgiving weekend, and I hope you get a chance to look down the barrel a couple of times over the next four days. For more information about the waterfowl survey, check out our webpage at www.bellrose.org. Stay tuned for more updates next week…….