Waterfowl Migration Update
Our season finally opened at home in the south central zone in Illinois. Opening day dawned with a forecasted high of 79 and a 25-30mph south wind. Unfortunately, the weathermen were correct. Hunters across the area experienced mixed results. The managed state areas had some birds and hunters that were drawn early enjoyed some success. A few groups of flight birds began to show up across the area on Sunday as the latest cold front approached. Most areas received at least an inch of rain which helps lessen the remaining effects of the summer drought. The cold front not only brought rain, but also a 25+ degree drop in temperatures and a wind shift to the north. The drop in temps and northerly winds brought with it a good waterfowl migration. Numerous new groups of Pintails, Wigeon, Shovelors, Gadwall, and divers entered southern Illinois. There were even some Mallards beginning to show up. Many think this is the leading edge of greenheads with the best yet to come as winter sets in. There was also an influx of Snow Geese and Specklebellies with the cold front. We enjoyed a good hunt post coldfront with 7 Mallards, 4 Gadwall, a Wood Duck, and a Wigeon.
The waterfowl surveys for Illinois have been updated and Southern Illinois is loaded with ducks. 185,000 birds have been counted in Southern parts of Illinois as of yesterday. A good portion of them are Mallards. Time will tell if they will stick around or if the lack of water will force them to continue south.
The outlook for the waterfowl migration the rest of the week is not as good as it was early in the week. The weather pattern across the US is going zonal with no large system in sight. Temperatures across a large portion of the country will return to seasonal. The calendar birds will continue to migrate when they always do, but the freeze and snow line birds will likely stay put. Temperatures in Illinois will be in the 50’s for highs and 30’s for lows. The lack of flooded habitat across Illinois and Missouri could lead to the waterfowl migration progressing further south even without a strong front. Waterfowl could continue south until they find the abundant habitat they need.
Atlantic Flyway Waterfowl Migration
Justin Tackett of KES Waterfowlers
“Well, the last day of our middle split in WV did not pan out to well, except for good times with friends. Hitting a back water expecting Super Storm Sandy to have pushed some more Wood Ducks down, and possibly Mallards did just the opposite. It was a long morning, just to see 4 Wood Ducks circle once and bug out. The local geese are starting to get pressured, and going to their safe havens. With the cold front passing through the hopes of having new birds are better but the down side is seasons out till December. But what can you do other than keep your fingers crossed that the weather works out for season, or travel? My trigger finger is getting itchy so I’m thinking travel might be in store. Knock Em Stiff!”
Central Flyway Waterfowl Migration
Levi Daniel of C&L Outdoors
“Well, it was a tale of two worlds for us this weekend. Saturday it was warm and windy, much of the same from the previous week. Saturday was slow for us, the few birds we had in the area had become stale and we didn’t have any new birds to hunt. Sunday, however, was completely different. Mid-morning, we had a cold front push through that dropped our temps over 20 degrees and brought us some much needed rain. The rest of the day was full of migrators, with Snows and Specks being heard over head and Mallards starting to show up in the area. Sunday and Monday brought us our first significant push of the year and was hopefully the beginning of a great season.”
Bill Witt of Bag’Em Outdoors
“Birds are in full swing in southern ND we have been hunting them hard the last couple of weekends, if temps stay up and water stays open hunting should be good for a couple of weeks. If the temp drops and waters close hunting will be done until spring in ND.”