Friday, December 19, 2014

Where Have All the Mallards Gone, Long Time Passing?

I have mentioned that a friend of mine and his wife allow me to use their dock in the winter months to film ducks on the Chesapeake Bay. I ran into the lady of the house a couple of weeks ago and she was complaining about how few ducks have been out on the Bay in front of their home. She agreed to email me when the ducks began to show up. I didn't get an email after a couple of weeks, so I thought maybe she had forgotten.

In this image of a container ship I took a couple of days ago, you can see all the way across the Bay to the Eastern Shore. Notice the water. There is nary a bird in the entire image. I think at this point in the Bay, it is roughly seven miles to the opposite shore.

Here is another photo I took pointed north towards the Bay Bridge near Annapolis. That is a distance of about ten miles as the duck flies from where I was standing. Again, few, if any, birds.

I found a Ducks Unlimited website where you can key in your zip code and read comments from hunters in the immediate area about what they have seen and experienced. It is very up-to-date. Some of the comments were from today. Many of them were complaining of the paucity of pochards and other ducks.

I don't have a lot of personal experience with what the Bay looks like in winter. These photos taken in previous years, though, are pretty indicative of the numbers of ducks that normally migrate to the area.

Maybe the migration has simply been delayed for reasons unknown. Or, perhaps, there has been a change of some kind in the Bay itself. A loss of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) or a lack of shellfish or poor water quality or —  It is worrisome.

I have been to another location several times recently where I have filmed Tundra Swans in the past. I have yet to see one swan. It is very unsettling not to know why there is such a lack of waterfowl this season.

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