Hunters taking to the rice fields and marshes in the state’s southwestern parishes for Saturday’s opening day of the special September teal season will find the majority of the teal have migrated into the state during the past two weeks.
State Waterfowl Study leader Larry Reynolds reported Thursday that the southwest area held an estimated 90,000 bluewing teal compared to 9,000 in the southeast marshes.
Most of the teal in the southeast were in the marshes near Baptiste Collette Bayou off the Mississippi River near Venice.
The total estimate teal count of 101,000 bluewings is well above the 50,000 estimated from last year’s survey taken just days before the special season, which runs through Sept. 28. This year’s count is the third lowest on record.
Reynolds also noted that this year’s estimate is 56 percent lower than the long-term average of 232,000, and that the southwest’s largest concentrations of bluewings “... were seen in flooded agricultural fields just north of Lacassine NWR Pool, and southeast of Welsh.”
Only 2,000 teal were estimated Tuesday on Catahoula Lake, a noticeable drop from a count take Saturday during a shorebird survey. Reynolds said the drop in teal numbers on Catahoula Lake is “… characteristic of early migrating bluewing teal, and abundance of birds on particular habitats is likely to change markedly in the coming days and weeks, possible in response to cold air currently moving across northern Mississippi Flyway states.”
A cold front is approaching the Louisiana coast Friday morning and could bring as much as one inch of rain to the coastal parishes. Louisiana hunters should not expect a dramatic drop in air temperatures, despite as much as a 20-degree dip in daily temperatures as far south as northern Arkansas from the cold front.