The recent cold snap is helping to drive more waterfowl from the north into Kansas this week, and in big numbers, with huge flocks of snow geese, specklebellies, Canada geese and ducks being reported across the state.
The Topeka area in general has seen good numbers of birds in the skies during the evening, including a video captured by WIBW-TV meteorologist Jeremy Goodwin of tons of snows flying into the area west of Menninger Hill on Dec. 10. My uncle, Galen Swader, took his son, grandson and daughter's boyfriend hunting on Saturday morning near Atchison and Hiawatha and they got the jump on a few birds, getting a haul of 18.
Clinton Wildlife Area near Lawrence reported seeing increased waterfowl numbers on Dec. 13, when 689 mallards, 584 Canada geese and 440 mergansers were reported to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, as well as some other duck species in smaller numbers. The East Coblentz and Elk Creek marshes are now accessible, though the roads and parking lots are quite muddy still. The KDWPT reports that the final phase of the wetland grant for the Coblentz Marsh is nearly completed, as well, with additional structure on the north pool. Shadden Marsh is full and has good vegetation, so there are good opportunities to hunt there.
Jeffrey Energy Center near St. Marys noted 50,000-plus snow geese in the area and about 200 mixed ducks, mainly staying in the middle of the lake. Boats are not allowed on the auxiliary lake during hunting season.
Milford is still in pretty rough shape after historic flooding in the area, and no vegetation was able to be grown. Still, the wildlife area reported seeing 300 ducks and 300 Canada geese on the lake. Nearby Tuttle Creek is in a similar situation but did count 2,065 ducks in the area as of Monday.
Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge in north-central Kansas reported season-high mallard totals this week. During Thursday’s waterfowl survey, the refuge counted 88,000 ducks — 99% of which were mallards — as well as 5,000 dark geese and 150,000 light geese. The refuge also counted 81 bald eagles.
In the Hutchinson area, Quivira NWR’s Christmas Bird Count on Dec. 14 yielded some interested results, as well, with 42,314 snow geese, 2,300 mallards, 227 specklebellies and 302 Ross’ geese counted, as well as 120 Canada geese. That’s a considerable increase in just a couple days, as the Dec. 10 waterfowl survey counted just 5,937 total geese, though mallard numbers dipped a bit from 3,181.
Cheyenne Bottoms near Great Bend in central Kansas reported fewer than 1,000 ducks on Monday, most of which were mallards, and around 75,000 geese, mainly snows and blues.