The first Arkansas Game and Fish Weekly Waterfowl Report since the beginning of the season is out now, and here’s what it says:
- November aerial waterfowl surveys show duck abundance about 40 percent lower than this time last year.
- Aerial surveys of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, a.k.a the Delta, shows estimated duck abundance of about 1.1 million, including about 181,000 mallards.
- Observers noted about 40 percent of the ducks in the Delta on rice fields, with half in cypress/tupelo brakes and half in fish ponds.
- Aerial counts showed about 30,000 ducks, including 14,000 mallards, in southwest Arkansas, and about 6,000 ducks, including less than 100 mallards, in the Arkansas River Valley.
The Game and Fish cautions about comparing these numbers to last year’s because its changed how it counts ducks in the aerial survey. Still, there’s little doubt that as of right now, there’s fewer ducks here than last year.
“That’s probably not much of a surprise to anyone,” AGFC waterfowl program coordinator Luke Naylor said in the report. “Conditions have been extremely dry compared to last year, when there was abundant habitat as a result of record rainfall just before the season. The landscape looks very different this season.”
On the upside: rain and colder weather, just around the corner:
The National Weather Service in North Little Rock is calling for 1 to 2 inches of rainfall across much of the state Wednesday night through Thanksgiving Day. According to the weather service, as much as 2 inches of rain fell across portions of east-central Arkansas on Monday night, including totals of 2.05 inches at the Stuttgart Municipal Airport in Prairie County and 1.70 inches at Brinkley in Monroe County.
Colder temperatures also could bring waterfowl migrations into the state. Behind the rainfall predicted for Wednesday and Thursday, cooler air will move into the state, bringing nighttime lows in the upper 20s and daytime highs in the 40s and lower 50s. Waterfowl biologists in Missouri reported seeing large movements of ducks and geese during that state’s aerial waterfowl survey flights earlier this week.