Sunday, March 15, 2009
Waterfowl Management, Part One
Since I have been busy with my seasonal waterfowl position have not had much time for photography, thought I would post some photos of what we do within our shop at the Department. As you can see from the above photo, I've turned into a hippie. Threw my razor away the first day of retirement.
Our concentration since January has primarily been to capture and place radio telemetry devices on female black ducks. Since black ducks were at one time the most abundant freshwater duck in eastern America and that the populations have gradually declined to an all time low in the 1980s, we along with other Fish & Game agencies are conducting intensive studies on their habits. One of the primary project goals is to learn more about habitat requirements for wintering, breeding and migration locations. Most of the photos below were taken by my boss, Tom Bidrowski. He is a dedicated professional and you couldn't work with or for a better guy.
The first stage of the project is to find an appropriate location to trap the ducks. Once identified, we or an assisting agency begin baiting the location daily. We determine when the best time to shoot the rocket net over the ducks will be by setting up and checking a trail camera. Below is an image from one of the trail cameras which provided the time of day. This tells us when the largest congregation of ducks occur in the rocket net zone area.
Next we go to the net location area, usually well before light and prepare for the rocket net shoot. One team member is in a camouflaged location within sight of the net zone site. He watches carefully through a spotting scope to determine when it is best to discharge the net over the ducks. Below is a picture taken by one of the team members, Dave, using his cell phone camera through the spotting scope while viewing a congregation of black ducks just prior to a shoot.
The other team members wait in close proximity to the location to rush in and remove the ducks from the net after the shoot. Below are some photos of the team removing ducks from a net right after a shoot.
Below is one of my cohorts, Mark, with a male wood duck. The second image is of yours truly with a female wood duck. As you can see we collected these ducks at sunset, right after they began their late afternoon feed.
Once the ducks are taken out of the net they are placed in a temporary enclosure for either banding or telemetry equipment placement. The male teal pictured below was anxious to get out.
The ducks are then either banded or taken to a location for the placement of radio telemetry equipment. Below are photos of Mark and I banding ducks.
Here are two closer images of the ducks so you can see the waterfowl bands placement.
The next blog post will include the next phase of the process. Photos will show how we place the radio telemetry on the ducks.