It’s official: September of 2013 will go down as the lowest one on record for blue-winged teal in the annual waterfowl population estimates conducted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
In a report compiled by Larry Reynolds, the state’s waterfowl study leader, he estimated only 50,000 blue-winged teal had arrived this week in Louisiana’s coastal zone and on Catahoula Lake.
That’s 74-percent lower than last year’s estimate of 189,000, and about 79-percent below the long-term average of 238,000.
The current estimate is about half of the next-lowest on record, which was 99,000 in 2002.
The data is compiled from three days of aerial surveillance that were completed on Thursday. The report was released Friday afternoon.
In the survey, Reynolds said the largest concentrations of teal in southwest Louisiana were in marsh between Cameron and Creole, and in a flooded agricultural field northwest of Welch. No groups larger than 500 were encountered during this week’s surveys.
There were no concentrations of teal seen in southeast Louisiana, and the estimate of 4,000 birds is the lowest on record for the second consecutive year. With 7,000 last year, 11,000 in 2010, 18,000 in 2009 and 13,000 in 2008, the five lowest blue-winged teal estimates for southeast Louisiana have come from the last six September surveys.
He notes that reports of a delayed blue-wing migration have come from Missouri and Kansas, as well as southern Mississippi and Central Flyway states. But in discussions with colleagues, he notes that birds are moving with a recent cool front.
An estimated 25,000 mottled ducks were counted, up from 19,000 recorded last year, which had been the lowest on record. Mottled ducKs increased in both southwest and southeast Louisiana, but remain well below the most recent 5-year average of 35,000.