As March Madness comes to a close, a couple of different tidbits of news have come through that might be of interest to you.
Last week on March 26 the first clutch of wood ducks hatched within our set of monitored nest boxes at Duck Creek. This is atypical for a couple of reasons. First of all, this is really early for wood ducks. In the past, an early hatch would be during the first few weeks of April, so pushing the first hatch date into March is extremely early. Secondly, hooded mergansers at Duck Creek typically precede wood ducks in hatching. This year, however, the hooded mergansers are trailing the wood ducks. The first monitored hooded merganser clutch to hatch occurred yesterday, April 3.
Once the little ducklings hatch, they leave the tree cavity or nest box within 24 hours. Peter Blums, who has been monitoring the birds at Duck Creek for the past 17 years, puts bands on these little ducks before they leave the nest. He uses distinct bands with a special clay lining on the inside that will wear off as the duck grows into the leg band. This enables us to know not only where the bird goes, but also where it originated.
Recently, Peter received a report on a young bird that he banded last year from Pool 2. Apparently, this young male was shot in December around Caldwell, Canyon County, Idaho. Caldwell happens to be in the Pacific Flyway along the Idaho/Oregon border some 1,465 miles away as the crow flies (Or should I say as the hooded merganser flies?).
Although hooded mergansers breed on both the east and west coasts and they do utilize other portions of the United States during migration, the dispersal of this bird is extremely rare. Peter believes the Bird-Banding Lab probably only has a couple of other recoveries documenting this kind of direct movement between eastern and western populations of hooded mergansers.
While some may consider the little snippets above just for the birds, here’s something for the anglers out there. On March 23, David Warren caught an 11-pound, 4-ounce bowfin out of Pool 1. His catch is a new alternative method (archery) state record bowfin, which beats the old record by a couple of pounds. The old record was a 9-pound, 2-ounce fish set in 1995.
Congratulations, David, on your great catch!
In a related bit of Duck Creek trivia, the largest bowfin caught in Missouri was back in 1963 when Clois Coomer caught a 19-pounder pole and line out of Pool 1.
For everyone else, there are still records to be set and still more fish in Pool 1. With the weather so beautiful, you’ll be hard pressed to find a decent excuse not to get out on the area.
In regards to the renovation work at Duck Creek, we’ll see how this spring shapes up. If conditions stay dry, the contractors will move back in and start chipping away at their remaining punch list for Units A and B. Within the department, we are getting permits in line and engineering schematics drawn up to move a few things forward this summer. Once things begin to firm up we will let you know what to expect. Thanks again for your support and use of the area.