BATON ROUGE — State waterfowl study leader Larry Reynolds completed the November aerial waterfowl survey on Nov. 20 when he surveyed the duck population in northeast Louisiana.
Reynolds, a waterfowl biologist with the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, reported he found twice as many ducks in that region of the state when he counted an estimated 209,000 ducks and 265,000 geese (13 percent white-fronted geese) on selected habitats during the traditional flight path established in 2005. The biologist and his staff counted 144,000 ducks there in November 2018.
The current number of ducks also is 45 percent higher than the 2005-2018 November average of 144,000, he wrote in his reported released Nov. 22.
The goose count of 265,000 was nearly three times higher than the number of geese seen last November and nearly twice the November average of 139,000 in northeast Louisiana.
Why more migratory birds? He said the increase in both ducks and geese was due to strong early cold fronts.
Reynolds reported that gadwall was clearly the most abundant duck species observed (129,000) followed by pintails (33,000), green-winged teal (22,000) and shovelers (17,000).
The largest concentration of ducks was spotted in the flooded fields in the Bunkie/Grand Cote and Bonita/Mer Rouge areas, according to Reynolds. Those two locations accounted for 83 percent of the ducks and 70 percent of the geese counted in the entire survey, he reported.
Other notable concentrations of ducks were seen in flooded fields east of Russell Sage Wildlife Management Area and large flocks of geese were counted in the fields east of Hebert.
Habitat conditions are drier in the region than at the same time last year, he reported, but still seem to be about average for this time of year. Also, according to his report, some traditionally flooded agricultural fields on the survey weren’t pumped up at the time, and flooding in backwaters of river systems was lacking for the most part, conditions that are expected to improve in the second split and third split.
Reynolds flew the northwest Louisiana survey on Nov. 15. An estimated 10,300 ducks were counted in the region, primarily on the locks, lakes, oxbows and fields along the Red River and upper Toledo Bend.
The total in that region was 14 percent below last November’s count of 12,000 but 47 percent higher than the average of 7,000 since 2005. Most of the ducks were gadwall (4,600), mallards (1,500), shovelers (1,400) and green-winged teal (800).