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Nature presents: A Duck Creek Drama

Feb 04, 2013

We're fortunate to have opportunities to discover nature right around us. Less than an hour drive from Jackson and Cape Girardeau is Duck Creek Conservation Area (CA) and Mingo National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) where mallards, snow geese, herons, bald eagles and other fascinating wildlife abound.

The Event:

Over 1,000 students on Friday and more than 600 visitors on Saturday took part in the 2013 Eagle Days event at Duck Creek CA and Mingo NWR. My family was among the 600 on Saturday. The events were spread out throughout the day, so it didn't feel like discovering nature with 600 other people.

 Scopes were fixed on nests at Mingo, where we saw a parent bald eagle patiently incubating an unknown number of eggs. Bald eagles lay two to three eggs each year, but usually not until March or April. However, it's not impossible for them to lay eggs this early and the way this one sat securely inside the nest implied it was protecting something. With bald eagles, both parents are responsible for egg incubation duties. By 10 to 11 weeks of age, the young eagles are feathered, nearly full grown and able to fly from the nest.

The Birds:

Most of our bald eagle sightings in Missouri right now happen near or over open water, like the one we viewed at Duck Creek CA on Saturday. They congregate near open water in tall trees looking for prey. The eagle at Duck Creek perches regularly high on the tops of bald cypress trees in Pool one and watches over his realm with an air of superiority. We watched him fly from one side of the pool to perch on the other side. This action sent an alarm through the flock of thousands of snow geese on that side of the pool, which projected the flock into a swirling tornado of panicked geese. It was an overwhelming sight with an impressive soundtrack.

 The great thing about this view of the eagle surrounded by snow geese is that it's not unique to the Eagle Days event. You can go out to Duck Creek CA and Mingo NWR any time from December through February and see a very similar display. Bald eagle populations in our area triple in the winter months, but we have many individuals that reside here. So, although Eagle Days happens every other year, our wild eagles and geese don't know that. They're on their own schedule. Visiting snow geese are available for viewing at least through February, and our resident wild eagles fish the area year round.

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Snow Geese and Bald Eagle over Pool 1
Snow Geese and Bald Eagle over Pool 1
A bald eagle at Duck Creek CA on Saturday caused unrest in a flock of thousands of snow geese.

Comments

Not sure what we'll do in Pool C just yet, I'd like to get it developed first then decide how we'll address hunter access.  As far as boat hides go, we have removed older deteriating boat hides from many existing blinds and not replaced them as they present an added maintenance issue.  Most of the blinds are situated right next to mature timber and it doesn't make a lot of sense to build a boat hide when you can simply shove your boat back in the woods and hide it that way.  That being said, any blinds that are built in the future that are out in the open we will probably provide a place to hide your boat.  Hope this helps.

Will there be a blind replaced in pool C? There was a old style stilt wood blind there that was great to hunt out of that also had a boat hide. Hope all blinds replaced on the entire area have boat hides!!!!

The old C blind was in the field north of Pool 2 on the other side of Ditch 104. This field is the lowest portion of Thompson Ridge.  Our plan is to take advantage of the fall of the land and manage water we can get opportunistically out of the ditch or from rainfall across these lower elevations.  Later in the season or during a wet fall it will add an additional hunting position to the draw.  During flood events this area will also provide flood relief to our neighbors as water will be able to get up and spread out of the ditch.

Roy, check the previous post from January. I provided a summary of the waterfowl season and how things compared to last year in terms of timing of peak birds and differences in species harvest.  However, in that post I did not look at the difference in hunter success in Units A and B compared to years before the construction.  Thanks for the interest.

Can anyone tell me where the old c blind is. I'm mostly curious I never knew it existed til recently

Could we get a report on the ducks harvested this year (species, timing, ect.)? Also, curious as to how this year compared to previous years for Units A and B. I know it is still a work in progress and we had a drought, but I hope the new layout will result in a higher bird per hunter average. Any info would be great. Thanks.

Any reports on the fishing at the lake?? Are the snow geese still using A Unit or the Lake?

I love your blog please keep up the good posts

There isn’t a hard fast date for the draw downs in Units A and B, but most of the units will be drawn down by the first of May.  As for Pool 1, it is currently above full pool which is 346 ft.  We are still working on the work plan for this year.  

Can you tell us when Unit A and Unit B will be drained down for the summer? What is the current lake level? Any news on future (this years) improvements???

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