Duck Creek CA UpdatesMore posts

First Fruits of the Season

Jun 28, 2013

Across the countryside the different stages of cultivated crops create a living patchwork. Wheat is being harvested. In other fields the remaining stubble is being burned. Some fields lay bare and brown from our latest soaking and must dry out before the planting process resumes. In other locales soybeans are up to your boots, while the corn varies, but can measure thigh high. A few early fields are lucky enough to be towering and tasseling already. As I walk around Duck Creek I can see a different kind of multi-cropping system at work.

In Full Bloom

In April, the willows were blooming and the curly dock had emerged from the shallowly flooded marsh. Today the withered stalks of curly dock, lined with umbels of dark red-brown seeds, contrast with the bright green growth of the sedges and grasses rising up from the damp mud. Common plantain has been on surging below the willows around Blind 8 and finished flowering last week. Its smaller cousin, mud plantain, is currently underway displaying its delicate white petals on the water’s surface. They give way from their stems as my sloshing boots disrupt the still pools on the west side of the area. New growth of pickerelweed and thalia from last year’s plantings are spreading out across the restored sloughs. Here too blossoms and ripening seeds can be seen amid the steady hum of bumblebees. Along the edges of Pools 2 and 3, the white spikey spheres of buttonbush can be seen in full bloom as evidence of another plant peaking at the end of June.

On the Rise

The golden seed heads of the cool season Reed Canary grass are the most visible mature grass at this point in the season. Scattered about the narrow inflorescence of sprangletop are beginning to head out. Additionally, a few millet seed heads are early arrivals amongst the sea of green. It is the emerald backdrop that should be examined. Ranging from a few inches tall to boot height, a variety of sedges, smartweed, grasses, and bidens are staging to rise up in the following months. As the summer progresses, the rich green will become intermixed with new hues of burgundy, white, and yellow, marking the ripening of additional crop of foods.

Continued Growth

As the growing season endures these plants will begin to wane and yet another crop will emerge. The precipitation from stalled hurricanes can stimulate a late cohort of toothcup, sprangletop, and millet prior to teal season. Although our sights are often set on the byproducts of the growing season as waterfowl season sets in, the total amount of food in seeds, tubers, and just plain old vegetative manner produced during the summer can be quite impressive all on its own. Granted, the sight I’ve described doesn’t mirror the straight field rows seen along the highway; however, this overlapping succession of growth is another approach to integrated cropping systems that has fed our migratory waterfowl and for thousands of years.


Buttonbush Flower
Buttonbush Flower
Buttonbush flowers are visited by a variety of insects. After it flowers, the ball of seeds are preferred by many wildlife, including Canada Geese


Seeds of Curly Dock
Seeds of Curly Dock
Curly dock emerges early in the spring from shallowly flooded wetlands. Its heart-shaped seeds are high in fiber.


Emerging Moist Soil
Emerging Moist Soil
The flooding and drying of wetlands promote the growth of annual plants that germinate on mud flats and later provide valuable food for waterfowl.


Pickerelweed Flower
Pickerelweed Flower
Pickerelweed is one of the many wetland plants that pollinators visit through the growing season.


Marsh Flatsedge
Marsh Flatsedge
Sedges are a group of wetland plants. The Marsh Flatsedge is only found in the southern half of the state and has very unique seeds or achenes.


Yes, the blind J1 in Pool 2 is being replaced. It is being built as we speak and should be finished by the end of the week.  We are utilizing a different design and materials in attempt to make the blind have a longer lifespan. The Pool 3 blinds AA2 and AA3 need to be replaced as well.  We will be working on them as time allows.

Correct me if I am wrong but wasn't J1 in pool2 replaced recently?

Yes, the plasticine bands are the ones with the clay liner that allow the young to grow into band. Sorry, blinds aren’t on the docket for this summer.

Are you still using the wear away clay bands? Any progress with replacing ANY blinds in Unit A?

I like where you head is at.  I was thinking the same thing yesterday and asked Peter if he had some final numbers.  He’s still working on the numbers, but I’ll post his results once I get them in the next couple of weeks.  If you recall, he bands young of the year in the many nest boxes scattered about. This week staff started trapping and banding birds on the upper end of Pool 1.  So far this week we have captured 35 birds, 8 of which were young that Peter had banded earlier this year. Pool 1 and Monopoly are big brood rearing locations and also a spot for molt migrants.

Can you tell us how many wood ducks (merganzers etc...) were banded on the area so far this year?

You are correct. The window for banding geese has passed. They are all flyers now. I didn’t take a look at the gauge yesterday, but I’d say it is a shade under full pool. Like I said before, although we will be losing water to evapotranspiration from now until the wet season, we are 2 foot higher than last year at this time.  We should be fine for water in Pool 1 come duck season. Most of the weed control has been focused on the south side of the lake.  The southwest corner gets a special dose for the submergent vegetation, as well treatment for the floating plants on the surface.  Sorry, I don’t have any diagrams for the work that will be done to the headquarters.  I haven’t been involved too much in that project. 

As of July 24 it looks like the window for banding geese is over. All the ones I saw in a unit were able to fly just fine Including that lone snow goose. Can you tell us what the lake level currently is? And approximately where the weed control on the lake is? (North to South East To West?) Any diagrams available for the work being done on headquarters building?

In the past few weeks, milo food plots have been scattered around and planted in Unit A (pools 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22).  I went past a couple of them yesterday and saw that we’ve got decent germination.  We are still working on some millet plots in the remainder of the area.  Prior to this week’s rain a few additional locations were disked and will be planted once things dry out enough to get the tractor back out there.  The successive rains have really hampered getting equipment out in the field this year, but the native vegetation looks pretty darn good.  I’m glad we’ve got the milo coming up and believe it will provide some hunting cover.  However, this year it is looking more and more like we may have to rely on redneck ingenuity for hunting cover, more so than having a lot of robust structure being available this fall.  

Any update on the the food plots would be great. Were you able to get them in and if so what pools?

The headquarters is a 60 year old structure and needs some upgrading, like the electrical work for example.  We will also be making better use of the space by increasing the amount of shop space in the main building and moving most of the staff offices over to the Gaylord Lab building. Last week’s post was immediately after the paperwork was cleared, but we don’t have a set date yet when the contractors will move in and start the work.  We’ll keep you posted.

You are correct the willows have definately jumped up in places this year.  We've talked about establishing tree screens with some of our plantings along the road.  If the natural recruitment of light seeded species like willows gets a head start, I don't think it will cause a problem in certain locations.  At this point, I think we'll let them go.

Frank said,"Construction to the headquarters building will hopefully begin soon and could limit space for a teal draw if we decide there is a need for a draw." Just curious, what construction is being completed at the HQ Building? Can you post progress pictures of the construction?

Noticed a vigorous growth of small willows along the west side of the road by 10 and 8 in A unit. Will these be allowed to grow? Or will they be mowed? There used to be a willow tree line along there.

We can put a little more gravel on either side, but I believe we may be limited with the overall width.

is there any chance they can make the road a little "wider" at the southwest boat ramp. with a larger vehicle the tires get off the road a little onto the slope. if it's wet that could cause a problem.

Luckily, we haven’t had to have any road closures while Little River has been working on resloping the ditch bank over the last few weeks.  The sloppy ditch-clean out portion of the work occurred in 2011.  This portion of the job is basically dressing up the ditch bank and roadside by reducing the steep slopes so they can be mowed and maintained in the future.  To date they’ve moved a mile up the west side of Pool 1 and they should stay out of the way of public use traffic. Before they started we didn’t know what equipment would be necessary so we figured we’d prepare you for the worst.  Once they get up to the air-bag structure they’ll move along the east side of Unit A along ditch 111.  It isn’t fancy, but it is necessary to get the area back in working order. Hopefully, the potential of having a section of road closed hasn’t kept you from being on the area.

I don’t have any updates on access to various hunt units. I addressed a similar question earlier this week regarding 53 further below in this comment string.  Thanks for the questions and interest, we’ll keep you posted as the season draws near.

In terms of teal season, I don’t know if you saw Matt’s comments on a previous blog post a couple weeks ago, but not much has changed in the last two weeks.  Construction to the headquarters building will hopefully begin soon and could limit space for a teal draw if we decide there is a need for a draw.   Draw or no draw, at Duck Creek, we will have the opportunity to offer more teal habitat to hunt this year than in years past.  Renovations in Unit A should allow us to offer a few spots to flood early and attract early migrant waterfowl despite some ongoing construction on the area.  At this time, it is too early to tell where that opportunity will be for sure.  Poo 1 will also be open for teal season as in years past. We will post more details about teal season later in August.

The recruitment of Canada Geese during this nesting season looked better this year than in years past.  I think the work that we’ve done in Unit A which has created a diversity of habitat conditions and various isolated locations may have contributed to this difference. We had plans to band about 70 geese that had been hanging out on Lueken Farm, which would have been great for a round-up.  However, our efforts were thwarted by some coyotes the morning of and the geese shifted their use over to Pool 1, which is less conducive to rounding the birds up easily.

Any updates on improving access to areas 53, 18, 20 and 21 for duck season? Any info concerning hunting opportunities for upcoming teal season?

How far north has little river gotten sloping the ditch on the west side of the lake? Do they have any plans to close the road on that side? Any confirmed plan of action for teal season?

Were there any Canada's banded this year on Duck Creek ? Would also like some info on how the Canada's done nesting this year ! Thanks !

Hello Bub, I’ll have to admit I’m starting to run out of answers.  Acorns are hard to find this time of year up close, even more so if you are scanning the canopy.  Our forester, Ross Glenn, usually does his mast survey towards the end of September and we’ll get you his summary report prior to waterfowl season.

Hi Frank! I was wanting to know what the acorn crop is looking like in Pools 2 & 3 this year, would appreciate any info !! Thanks

As you know this spring we were able to recharge Pool 1. The cool spring and subsequent rains have kept water levels a total of 2 foot higher this time last year.  The summer heat is starting to set in and the plants have been transpiring so we’ve started to see the beginning of falling lake levels, however, it is still pretty much at full pool.  The sun, wind, and plants will continue to take it down through the next few months, but currently we are setting as good as can be for Pool 1 water levels at the beginning of July.

Hi Frank, What is the current lake stage in Pool 1 at this time? Thanks!!

I’ve got a quick clarification on the aquatic plants in Pool 1.  Fisheries staff did begin spraying the floating plants in locations along the southern half of Pool 1 last week.  They also treated some of the submergent vegetation in the southwest corner. They will be continuing this work this week as well.  

Addressing the question about unit 53, one objective of the renovation was to restore how water flows across the landscape because the closer we can get to natural functions, the higher likelihood we can successfully provide quality wetland habitats.  We also wanted to incorporate our wetland enhancements with the existing topography to mimic some of the diversity that historically occurred but has been leveled out over time.  While culverts do allow water to pass and allow vehicle access, they also can become a maintenance and management dilemma.  Culverts become pinch points for beavers to zone in on and block water conveyance.  Culverts also reduce potential fish passage.  These reasons contributed to why we took the culvert out of the old McGee Creek cut-off. This side channel is periodically flooded and removing the culvert and notching the levee on the north end should enhance the overall ecological function of this old cut-off channel. The other channel that runs past the parking lot at 55 was cut to help deliver water to that pool. By incorporating this slough along with the topography, this area had a lot better habitat and water this year than wan possible in the past.    The 53 unit still doesn’t have a reliable water supply because it is cut-off by Ditch 2 and the McGee Creek cut-off, but hopefully we can remedy that in the future by tying into wells in Unit A.  This won’t happen this year, but hopefully next year.  In terms of access, there are a wide variety of preferences among hunters.  Sure, it is good to have some areas which are easy to get to.  However, there are some folks that don’t mind a little bit longer walk.  A good example of this is Dark Cypress. I know this answer is a little lengthy, but I hope that it gives you a little better idea of the design decisions that were made in Unit B. Thanks for the question.

Yes sir.

Recent Posts

Blue-winged Teal In Flight

Testing the Waters

Sep 09, 2016

Have you ever been interested in duck hunting, but the idea of weathering the cold has kept you from taking that extra step out into the marsh?  Or perhaps you do duck hunt, but have that friend who tried it once, had leaky waders in the dead of winter, and swore he or she would never go back.  Well, it just so happens ... 


Busy Bees

Sep 05, 2016

Their sight and sound might bring panic at a picnic, but our need for bees is crucial.

Closeup of yellow garden spider on web

The Itsy-Bitsy Garden Spider

Aug 29, 2016

It’s a shame that little Miss Muffett was too frightened to meet the spider that sat down beside her. She would have discovered that spiders are exceptional creatures.