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Dec. 23rd Waterfowl Update

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CHRISTMAS COLD FRONT LONG OVERDUE…HUNTERS HOPING FOR CHANGE

Welcome to Steve McCadams' Weekly Waterfowl Report.

Cooler weather is in the forecast for Christmas day with a chance of snow flurries in the forecast next week. After more than two weeks of unseasonably warm temperatures and light winds, hunters across the region are hoping the change will stimulate duck movement. A rash of warm weather has lingered far too long with near record highs reached during the two week period of unusual conditions for December. There are still a lot of ducks in the area but stagnant winds and mild weather have not been kind to dreary duck hunters lately as the birds are not moving much. Approaching cold fronts could see quick improvement if north winds arrive as scheduled.
 
Aerial waterfowl surveys taken last Monday (Dec 18th) by the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge show numbers of ducks have declined since the previous survey taken almost two weeks ago. Ducks were down 5 percent from the previous survey at a time when most waterfowlers were hoping for a steady increase. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported 131,731 ducks on the refuge. That’s down from the 139,000-plus reported earlier in December. Dominating the breakdown as to species were mallards at 77,303 followed by gadwall at 17,073. There were 10,170 ringnecks and 7,728 greenwing teal followed by 5,759 pintails.
 
Here in the Paris area the Big Sandy unit of the refuge was holding 52,975 of the total while the Duck River unit near New Johnsonville accounted for 77,675 ducks out of the total survey. Numbers of Canada geese were reported to be 3,805. And, there were 39 bald eagles using the refuge. Nearby Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge over on Lake Barkley at Dover, TN showed an increase this week in duck numbers from previous surveys. There were 32,750 ducks reported, which is +204 percent since the earlier survey of two weeks ago. And, that figure is +26 percent above the 5-year average there.
 
After Christmas should see some improvement if winter weather returns to its normal cycle of cold fronts and windy days. Hunters have a lot of days left as Tennessee’s season runs through January 28, 2007.
 
Below are survey dates by USFWS on TN Nat'l Wildlife Refuge and total duck count with comparisons to last year at the same time in parenthesis).

SURVEY DATE TOTAL DUCK COUNT
October 26th 23,194 (+177% Last Yr)
November 3rd 32,632 (+11% Last Yr)
November 20th 49,492 (-15% Last Yr)
December 8th 138,174 (+80% Last Yr)
December 18th 131,731 (-14 Last Yr)

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