Teal numbers lower this week

After the rain and weather kept us grounded last week, we got back at it on Wednesday, September 16th. Blue-winged teal (Spatula discors) numbers dropped this week from what we witnessed on September 2nd; however, this wasn’t a big surprise. The teal migration was a little early this year with the weather patterns we have been witnessing. BWTE usually start with a bang in early September and decline rapidly from there. Green-winged teal (GWTE; Anas crecca) start slow and peak in late October/early November (Fig. 1). I expect the BWTE numbers to be even lower next week as the temperatures are forecast to dip into the lower 40’s over the weekend. Teal abundance this week was 30,895 and was down 32% from the September 2nd numbers along the Illinois River. This week we were closer (+9%) to the 10-yr average of 28,417 for teal. We also estimated 7,685 teal along the central Mississippi River, which was up 24% from the 10-yr average but down 23% from earlier in the month. Water was scarce at several of the top refuges of the lower Mississippi this week from Quincy to Grafton. This water management practice is usual as they gear up for October arrivals.

I saw a Facebook post from a friend today that caught my eye. Pat Gregory hunts near the Forbes Biological Station and is usually successful at harvesting a few of the “blue rockets” storm trooping his decoys. Pat loves to hunt over wooden decoys, as he is a passionate decoy carver himself. A tradition that was handed down from his grandfather I believe. Anyway, Pat snapped this photo of the morning’s bounty. He informs me the decoys were carved by Tyler Wood, and they were obviously good enough to lure this individual within range. Thanks for sharing Pat!

Be safe out there and enjoy the last weekend of teal season.

Illinois River Waterfowl Aerial Inventory – 9/16/2020

Central Mississippi Waterfowl Aerial Inventory – 9/16/2020

blue winged teal with 2 wooden decoys
Successful harvest of a blue-winged teal (Spatula discors) using handmade wooden decoys along the mudflats of the Illinois River. Photo by Pat Gregory and decoys carved by Tyler Wood.
Migration chronology of teal along the Illinois river. Weekly numbers represent the 10-year average (2010–2019).
Migration chronology of teal along the central Mississippi river. Weekly numbers represent the 10-year average (2010–2019).