Friday, September 2, 2011

Mottled Duck Study in ACE Basin

Did you know that the mottled duck is not native to South Carolina? Their home range is actually along the Gulf states and only in the coastal plain. Mottled ducks were brought to South Carolina's coast roughly 30 years ago by SCDNR and they have joined our family of waterfowl quite nicely. Along with the wood duck, mottled ducks are S.C.'s only other year-round resident duck. August 2011 marks the second year of study on the movement and nesting behavior of hen mottled ducks. These ducks are caught in the ACE Basin, fitted with a radio-tracking collar at Nemours Wildlife Foundation and then released back into the area from which they were captured. Aerial surveys allow wildlife biologist Eddie Mills to track the general location of these birds. Fortunate to visit the surgery center on a day when volunteer veterinarians were implanting the radio transmitters, I was able to gain a better understanding for  the collaborative effort underway to better understand the life history of mottled ducks. Waterfowl hunters know that they are allowed to harvest one mottled duck per day during duck season, and their population tend to be very steady and not prolific. Conservation groups like Delta Waterfowl (which is celebrating 100 years of conservation research in 2011), the Flyway Foundation and DU have pitched in to cover expenses and SCDNR shares access to boats and personnel. To all the many volunteers and helpers that are assisting on this project that I am not aware of - I want to say thanks from!

To view a past blog on the ACE Basin film 'Common Ground' click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Here is the star of the show - a hen mottled duck with radio transmitter; Eddie Mills of Nemours Wildlife Foundation holds a hen mottled duck; SCDNR's Al Segars and veterinarian Sarah Boyd oversee surgery on a mottled duck; Volunteer Bill Elliott and veterinarian Bill Sammons

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