Biologists last week counted less than half of the blue-winged teal found in the state last September, according to the season's initial aerial waterfowl survey.

The survey, flown Sept. 8-10, revealed an estimated 215,000 blue-wings had made it to the state by the season opener – and 72 percent of those were packed into the Southwest Louisiana rice fields.

This total is 47 percent of the 457,000 blue-wings counted last September, and was 15 percent lower than the long-term average of 252,000 birds, the report shows.

Biologists reported the largest coastal concentration of blue-wings northwest of Welsh, although good numbers also were found on Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge and around Rockefeller Refuge.

That said, Catahoula Lake numbers were up sharply over last year. Biologists counted about 49,000 teal in that area compared to only 9,000 in 2009.

Southeast Louisiana hunters had the short end of the season opener, with only 11,000 teal found in that part of the state. Biologists said that was nearly 40 percent lower than last year's 18,000 teal.

The only notable concentration of teal in this part of the state came from the Caernarvon area.

Of course, teal made up the vast majority of ducks counted. However, there were 40,000 mottled ducks and 3,000 pintail estimated to be in the state already.

That mottled-duck count was higher than in 2007 and 2008, but much lower than the 53,000 birds estimated last September. And, following the teal flights, 33,000 of the mottled ducks were found in the southwest. That left only 7,000 birds for the southeastern marshes.

All but a few pins counted were found in Southwest Louisiana.

LDWF biologists fly monthly surveys through January, and the results will be posted here on LouisianaSportsman.com.

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