Aerial waterfowl count paints bleak picture for opening day of teal season
September 2013 survey could be 'one of the lowest on record,' official says
Aerial surveys being conducted in advance of the opening weekend of Louisiana’s teal season have yielded disappointing results so far, according to the state’s waterfowl study leader.
Larry Reynolds, who spent Monday and Tuesday flying across the state compiling data for the annual September waterfowl survey with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said the outlook for Saturday morning isn’t very encouraging.
“The first two days of the aerial survey, which took me from the Texas state border across to Lake Salvador, have been pretty poor. I’m guessing it may be one of the lowest in history,” Reynolds said. “There just aren’t many teal, at least in the coastal part of the state right now.
“It’s definitely the worst survey that I’ve flown, and I’ve been flying surveys since 2006,” he said. “So it appears the migration has been delayed.”
He has seen some small pockets of good groups of blue wings, but suspects several factors have contributed to this year’s lower numbers.
“First, we got water on the breeding grounds a little bit later this year,” he said. “Also, last year the states in between the breeding grounds and here were much dryer than they are this year. So there’s better habitat conditions in the flyway north of us than there were last year.”
He still has one remaining day of flying on Thursday to complete the report, so final survey numbers will not be available until Friday afternoon, Reynolds said. When they are posted online early next week, you can see them here.
Last September’s survey counted 189,000 blue-winged teal, which was about 12-percent higher than the 2011 estimate of 169,000. But that was still below the long-term average of 240,000, according to the report.
“I have no idea what the estimate is going to be this year, but I would guess right now after what I’ve seen the first two days, it’s certainly going to be lower than 189,000,” he said. “I don’t know what the lowest on record is, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s one of the lowest on record.”
Despite the bleak outlook, Reynolds said his plans for opening day haven’t changed.
“I’ll tell you where I’m going to be Saturday. I’m going to be hunting on Saturday, and I’m the one who just spent three days in an airplane seeing very few teal,” he said. “But I know how this goes, and I’m going to be out there.
“There is year-to-year variation, and this year the news isn’t very good,” he said. “But that can change overnight. These blue wings might just show up.”
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