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Illinois Outdoors

Blue-winged teal numbers are below average for the first Illinois Natural History Survey waterfowl census.

Illinois teal numbers below average

September 05, 2007 at 02:06 PM

Blue-winged teal numbers were well below average on Tuesday for the Illinois Natural History Survey’s first aerial census of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. Teal season opens across Illinois Saturday morning at sunrise and runs through Sept. 23.

Counts along the Illinois River were particularly low, which is no surprise given recent flooding. The total Illinois River count of 6,590 teal was far below the 10-year average of 20,076. Typical hotspot Rice Lake, which last year led all public areas in teal harvest at 1,280 teal, showed no birds in the survey. Site staffers said there was actually a small flock in the Barton Field refuge, but noted there are very few mudflats on site. Hunting at Rice Lake is on a first-come, first-served basis with room for the first 200 hunters and shooting until 1 p.m.

The Mississippi River count of 1,580 was also well below the average of 3,585.

“Blue-winged teal normally are most attracted to very shallow water and mud flats and these habitats are not available on the portions of the rivers surveyed due to floods,” waterfowl biologist Ray Marshalla said. “Non-traditional areas that have shallow flooded fields and mud flats likely have good numbers of blue-winged teal. Northeast and north-central Illinois and areas flooded by the two major rivers, plus Corps reservoirs such as Shelbyville, Carlyle and Rend may be the best areas to find teal.”

That rings true since anecdotal accounts in central Illinois show several flocks of blue-wings have moved inland from the river to take advantage of mud flats around strip mines and in areas flooded during recent heavy rains.

Top public areas last year after Rice Lake were Carlyle Lake 389 teal (1.94 teal per hunter), Horseshoe Lake-Madison State Park 200 (0.53 tph), Ten Mile Creek 126 (4.06 tph), Kaskaskia River 46 (1.92), Clinton Lake 40 (0.66), Snakeden Hollow 23 (1.05) and Woodford 15 (1.0). Obviously, most teal are shot on private ground.

Hunters are hoping a forecast cold front on Thursday will push new birds into the state.

Hunters are limited to four teal per day. And make sure to take not that legal hunting hours are sunrise to sunset. Don’t shoot half hour before sunrise, as is allowed during the regular duck season. That’s the easiest ticket going for a conservation police officer.

Here are the two surveys:



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Here at Hennepin Hopper, the teal are in large flocks(40-100) on the big areas open water. But in the small puddles they offer great shooting in 2’s and 3’s. The water level is about 1.5 higher than normal and have flooded areas with moist soil plants like sedge and smartweed. It too offers great shooting for teal and the occasional goose. Good luck on the river.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/09 at 06:45 PM

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