Joshua Osborn observed in his blog off flying the aerial waterfowl survey for the Illinois Natural History Survey on Monday:
seeing more vegetation exposed, especially on the Upper IL.
Probably not a coincidence that he also observed this in the Illinois River Valley:
I estimated ~460,000 here this week, 35% above the 10-yr average for this river. I observed an increase in mallards and pintails, and we more than doubled our count of green-winged teal from last week.
The overview of the latest aerial waterfowl survey by Osborn, a waterfowl ecologist for the INHS-Forbes Biological Station, is below:
Click here for details on the aerial waterfowl inventories and the long history of them. Click here for the home site for the Forbes Biological Station; click here for the Facebook page of the station.
November 15th, 2021 – Aerial Waterfowl Inventory Blog We flew the waterfowl survey on Monday, November 15, 2021. Habitat conditions along the Illinois River continue to improve as the river level drops. We are seeing more vegetation exposed, especially on the Upper IL. How much seed remains is anyone’s guess, but at least water is down to expose the vegetation structure and what food remains on or in the substrate. We had an influx of birds late last week or over the weekend in the IRV. I estimated ~460,000 here this week, 35% above the 10-yr average for this river. I observed an increase in mallards and pintails, and we more than doubled our count of green-winged teal from last week. I also received above average hunting reports from most of the reach of the river over the weekend. I estimated ~391,000 ducks in the central MS River this week, 26% below the 10-yr average. More evidence of a later migration this year: 1) We lost some dabblers along the MS this week when we should really be picking them up at this point and 2) a lack of diving ducks. We saw our first big raft of divers on Pool 19 near Montrose, but the scaup and canvasbacks still haven’t made their way down yet. When approaching the halfway point of duck season, like we are in central Illinois, I find it useful to reset a little and think about what remains ahead of us. If you’re like me, you’ve already lost a couple of decoys, broken gear (and a dog), and are tired and sore from pushing yourself in the daily pursuit. Like every year, you’ve probably already had busy hunts and slow hunts in the past few weeks. You may have had breakfast in the blind with old friends, stood in knee-deep water shadowing a tree with new ones, or knelt in the muddy marsh alone with your thoughts. If you haven’t done one or all of those things; we’re only halfway there, you still have time. So, what do we have to look forward to in the coming weeks? In recent years our peak along the IL River has been the last week in November and along the MS River it has been the first week of December. It will be interesting to see it this trend holds this year. As a good hunting friend from my college days liked to say. “Buckle up. We just getting started good.” For this aerial survey numbers and for more information about the surveys visit www.bellrose.org. See ya next week!
Below are the breakdowns for the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.