With about 75 percent of December’s aerial coastal survey completed, the state’s waterfowl study leader is encouraged by what he’s seen through Wednesday afternoon’s flight.

Larry Reynolds, with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said 21 of the 27 transect lines that make up the annual survey have been completed so far this week from the Texas border eastward to Houma, and he’s seen many more ducks than he did in November.

“There’s clearly been a big migration into the state,” Reynolds said. “Overall, for the transect lines I’ve flown, there are more ducks, more mallards and more diving ducks.

“It seemed a lot more like what we’re used to seeing.”

Louisiana’s coastal and east zones reopen for waterfowl hunters across the state this Saturday, Dec. 14. The first split in the state’s west zone ends Sunday, Dec. 15 and then reopens for the second split on Saturday, Dec. 21.

The coastal zone survey also includes a report on Catahoula Lake in central Louisiana.

“Catahoula Lake is wrapped up in canvasback and ringnecked ducks, plus a few thousand mallards,” Reynolds said. “We didn’t see any canvasbacks in November, so there are a lot more diving ducks on Catahoula Lake.”

He said the same holds true for many of the transect lines he flew this week.

“There are a lot more ringnecks everywhere we fly. There are more ducks in the flooded fields,” he said. “And there are a lot more mallards in southwest Louisiana than we saw in November.”

Three transect lines in particular, two over Marsh Island and one bisecting Terrebonne Parish, were indicative of a change for the better, he said.

“The two lines across Marsh Island had very few birds in November, but now there were lots of green wings and gadwalls on those lines,” Reynolds said. “And the line that bisects Terrebonne Parish had a lot of ringnecks at the north end and a lot of gadwalls and green wings as you went through the fresh, intermediate and brackish marsh. A lot more birds than we saw in November.”

Depending on flying conditions Thursday, Reynolds hopes to finish the survey and release the completed results by the end of this week or early next week. 

“I won’t know what the final numbers are until I get the survey done and get a chance to enter the data and crunch the numbers, but at least on what I’ve flown so far, there’s definitely been some movement into the state,” he said.