"(We) had some issues with the tide and rafting ducks, (but) all in all took some nice birds for the bag," fedrh20 reported on Jan. 11. "Coulda smoked 100 pintail a day. Sat and watched them decoy for fun."
This hunter's experience lined up with the findings of state biologists, who estimated 2.7 million ducks were in the state during their January aerial survey conducted Jan. 4-12.
This count reflects a 25-percent jump versus the 2.16-million-bird count in December, according to information released by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. It also is a whopping 69-percent higher than the number of ducks counted during the January 2009 survey.
And, just as fedrh20 found, hunters in Southeast Louisiana seem to be the big winners, with numbers more than doubling from the December count of 555,000 to more than 1.2 million birds as gadwalls, greenwings, scaup and ring-necks finally moved into the area in numbers.
Markedly increased numbers of grey ducks and scaup were found in the brackish and saline marshes From Terrebonne Parish east, with a large concentration of ducks found in the fresh marsh south of Lake Salvador.
Southwest hunters, on the other hand, lost 136,000 ducks over the past month. Biologists noted that, while large groups of ducks were found on Cameron Prairie Nation Wildlife Refuge and the marshes east from there to Grand Lake, there were fewer birds seen in the flooded ag lands.
Gadwall led the way with a total of 967,000. Of those, 611,000 were found in Southeast Louisiana, with another 355,000 greys in the southwest marshes and 1,000 being in Catahoula Lake.
The next most-numerous duck species found was green-wing teal, which numbered an estimated 473,000 birds. Southwest Louisiana held the majority of these ducks with 301,000 birds packed in that section of the state. The rest of the green-wings were in Southeast Louisiana.
Shovelers rounded out the top three, with a total of 269,000 spoonies counted. All but 39,000 were found in the Southwest Louisiana marshes.
Other counts were:
Mallards – 140,000 (133,000 of which were in the southwest; 1,000 in Catahoula Lake)
Mottled – 93,000 (52,000 in the southwest; 41,000 in southeast)
Wigeon – 31,000 (14,000 in the southwest; 17,000 in southeast; less than 1,000 in Catahoula Lake)
Blue-winged teal – 176,000 (117,000 in the southwest; 59,000 in the southeast)
Pintail – 113,000 (89,000 in the southwest; 24,000 in the southeast)
Scaup – 181,000 (46,000 in the southwest; 135,000 in the southeast)
Ringnecked – 190,000 (67,000 SW; 105,000 SE; 18,000 Catahoula)
Canvasbacks – 66,000 (<1,000 SW; 23,000 SE; 43,000 Catahoula)
The total count is on par for the five-year average of 2.67 million, but is still 13 percent off the 30-year average of 3.1 million birds.
In addition to the birds included in this count, biologists estimated another 238,000 ducks and 214,000 geese were found in selected habitats in Northeast Louisiana. That reflected a 33-percent increase in ducks and a 45-percent jump in geese as compared to the December count.
Another 9,600 ducks were counted in Northwest Louisiana, primarily along the Red River and on the upper Toledo Bend Reservoir. That reflected a substantial drop from the 14,000 birds counted in December and is the lowest January count for this area of the state in the past five years.