Aaron Yetter writes about what he saw in his aerial surveys in his latest blog, including some stuff about gun- and decoy-shy mallards anybody who has hunted ducks along the Illinois River the past few weeks has suspected.
He does the aerial surveys for the Illinois Natural History Survey along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. Survey numbers are posted at www.bellrose.org.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources links the surveys on their site at
Here is Yetter's latest blog:
December 8th, 2015 – Aerial Waterfowl Inventory Blog
We completed the waterfowl survey on Tuesday, December 8th following the fog on Monday.
Water levels were elevated along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, and several of the
mallards were still located in the flooded timber; especially along the Illinois. Illinois River
numbers were stable from the preceding week at 190,910 total ducks and were 7% above
the 10-yr average. However, mallards (130,350) were 16% below average for this time
of year. We have had the same number of mallards in the Illinois Valley since before
Thanksgiving and hunter harvest reflects this trend. Hunting reports from the field indicated
the mallards were call, decoy, and blind shy so if you’ve been harvesting mallards, you’re
one of the lucky hunters along the Illinois River.
Once again the Mississippi River had more ducks than the Illinois River. Total duck
abundance was (463,540); down 29% from the previous week, but still 87% ahead of the
10-yr average. It appeared to me that those big numbers of ducks at Louisa, Swan Lake,
Long Lake, Dardenne, and Cannon refuges were down from the December 3rd flight.
Also the canvasback numbers on Pool 19 dropped considerably (39%) from last week.
On a brighter note, I saw several big bunches of greater white-fronted geese and
snow geese along both rivers. This should make the Illinois goose hunters happy.
For more information on the waterfowl surveys check out our web page at www.bellrose.org.
Stay tuned for more updates next week…………………..
This photo from Spunky Bottoms on the lower Illinois River shows the muddy water where
mallards were stirring up the substrate while feeding in the shallows. You might even find
some fleeing greater white-fronted geese in the mix.