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.

Blue Skies.

22 comments:

Twisted Fencepost said...

Poor things. I'm sure they are terrified, not understanding that what you are doing is to help them.
Such an interesting field of work you have. Thanks for sharing it.

Philip said...

Ken
Thanks for this post very interesting work you are doing to fit traking units onto these Ducks so nice to see people caring so much for animals I wish I had a Job like this :) Must be something to see that net gun go off !!

fishing guy said...

Ken: What a neat duck. I wonder why only Mallard ducks seem to make there flyway through NE Ohio. I saw a field with about 400 of them in the field.

Willard said...

Ken,

An extremely interesting post. It reminds me a lot of what the PGC does with turkeys to study their movement patterns, etc. Good photos and I look forward to learning more about the duck trapping.

I can understand giving up the razor too.You would make an excellent undercover officer. I didn't stop shaving when I retired, but Salty did as soon as he dropped his Deputy Conservation Officer Commission.

Salty said...

Very interesting post Ken!

I’m glad to see that in these difficult economic times this vital work is continuing.

I have noticed with our Pa officers that many neglect the razor at least for awhile upon retirement after being required to maintain a clean shaven appearance for the duration of their careers.

Andor Marton said...

That's an interesting work Ken, thanks for sharing it with us. I wish I had such a job/activity after my retirement.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

What a fantastic project Ken and very worthwhile too. I like the hippie look btw. :)

Natural Moments said...

Have fun interacting with Nature. Looks like a fun project Ken. I always had fun tracking animals too.

gidje said...

What a great project to be apart of. Looking forward to week two for the next phase. note...Retirement gives you the right not shave. ;o)

Pepe Soria said...

Day after day in touch with the nature, for force it(he,she) has to make us better persons.
Regards

nessabates said...

What a great field of work to be in! Not only do you take beautiful photos of birds but you also help in the field of being able to protect them. This is a really cool share...interesting.

Bradley Myers said...

Ah! retirement and no rzors, I can't wait, with my four day breaks each week I do not shave but that is just long enough to look scruffy and get my wife on my back. I think a beard is in my future.

Thanks for the educational post and I am looking forward to the next installemnt. When you had not posted for a week I assumed you were off on another trip taking photographs.

Did you finish your EMT class and are you volunteering aanyplace?

juanKa said...

Very good information, congratulations!!

The Birdlady said...

The beard is almost as cool as those ducks!

T and S said...

Ken : This is amazing conservation work that you guys are doing. Congratulations.

Giving up that razor isn't that bad at all. And like Willard said you surely have it in you for an alternative career as undercover agent.

Keep up the good work

Ivar Ivrig said...

Excellent documentation, Ken. You all do a great job. Keep it up :-)

Tim Rucci said...

Interesting work you are doing these days, Ken. I enjoyed reading the details. I guess you have to be careful not to slip or hurt the duck as you are applying the bands. I'll be checking back to see how you guys put tracking devices on them.

Barbara said...

Thanks for sharing Ken...neat to see the behind the scenes stuff.

Evita said...

God bless you Ken for doing such fantastic work! It is so inspiring and moving to see people working for nature and not against her. And today we need as much of that as we can get!

Thanks for this awesome explanation! I know the ducks must be terrified but in some way I am sure they also sense your good energies :)

Atanasio Fernández García said...

Hello Ken, the banding of waterfowl is an interesting activity and it is even more the possibility of monitoring by radio telemetry. I dedicate band-ring birds for over 20 years, but I have never used this method with cannon-nets. I hope you get some interesting results! Greetings!

Jose's World said...

Ken: I can see you are right in your environment,stubby and wet. Would rather be an observer in this management activity.

Anonymous said...

How much did Tom have to pay you to say such nice words? It never ceases to amaze me the things you guys do!