Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Will any ducks still be around for Ohio's season opener?

The farm pond on Tuesday was strangely quiet, and just as weirdly, absent of the sight of any waterfowl of any kind.

That includes the ubiquitous Canada geese, which are always present on the pond.

With the start of Ohio's waterfowl hunting season on October 15, the lack of ducks and geese is somewhat disquieting.

And there appears to be good reason for the nagging doubts, too.

John Pogacnik, biologist with Lake Metroparks and himself an avid birder, has his own personal observations on the subject. As Pogacnik puts it, this past Saturday from his Lake Erie lakefront home he saw huge flocks of waterfowl of all kinds.

But on Sunday, nothing, he said.

Pogacnik said also that a birder friend of his visited Pennsylvania's Presque Isle State Park over the weekend to take in some birding opportunities.

On Saturday this birder made a personal best sighting of 745 pintail ducks along with an abundance of teal and other waterfowl species.

By Sunday?

"There wasn't a dappler duck to be seen," Pogacnik said.

It would appear that the weekend's cold front pushed many ducks through, the waterfowl stopping for some rest on Saturday before moving on sometime Monday.

That also could help explain why I heard several flocks of tundra swans passing overhead before dawn on Tuesday. Typically this species doesn't appear in our area until November; or late October at the earliest.

And a friend who owns a beaver swamp in Ashtabula County remarked Tuesday that though his marsh had a sizable flock of woodducks it was absent of any mallards or Canada geese. And that is not typical of this particular unit, either.

Yet waterfowlers know that their sport is almost universally based upon the weather, not just locally but up north and out west where most ducks and geese bred.
This weather-related dependance is true more so than for any other form of hunting except for perhaps that involving doves and woodcock.

How all of this will translate into hunting opportunities a week from Saturday is a anyone's guess and likely will keep area waterfowlers restless for the next 10 days.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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