Winter Waterfowl Survey
The ASNV Winter Waterfowl Count will be conducted Saturday and Sunday, February 4 & 5, 2017. Volunteer teams survey the Potomac River from Algonkian Regional Park in Loudoun County south to Quantico Marine Base in Prince William County. Several important inland ponds, lakes, and marshes are also surveyed. Compiler Larry Cartwright will also contact veteran volunteers beginning in early January.
There will also be a Waterfowl workshop on January 29, 2017 at the Woodmarsh trail parking lot at Mason Neck NWR.
2016 Summary of Waterfowl Survey Results
A combination of several unfortunate conditions reduced waterfowl presence at several locations along the survey tract. Fast moving water and flooding of the riverbank along the Potomac between Great Falls and the American Legion Bridge at 495 denied volunteers access to parts of the river and forced waterfowl to relocate. Certainly the large number of Ring-necked Ducks usually seen at Great Falls were not documented this year. An oil spill at Roaches Run near the Reagan Airport added to the problem as responders worked to contain the spill while trying to rescue oiled wildlife. Finally, several of the inland ponds were reported by volunteers to be frozen.
Despite the obstacles facing survey teams in the upper potions of the survey tract and some of the inland ponds, it was a great day for viewing swans and three species of divers for some of the teams south of Mt. Vernon. Tundra Swans were in good numbers at the Great Marsh at Mason Neck as expected, but were also heavily concentrated at Quantico, especially at Champawamsic Creek. Lesser Scaup were ubiquitous around Mason Neck and Occoquan National Wildlife Refuge, with over 12,000 birds reported. Canvasbacks were quite numerous in Belmont Bay, prompting veteran surveyor Jim Waggener to state that he had never seen so many of them at the Thompson Creek outflow to Belmont Bay. Finally, Redheads had a respectable presence in Belmont Bay and around Possum Point.
As for dabblers, Ft. Belvoir and Possum Point were the best places for documenting Northern Pintail. Unfortunately, the trend for Green-winged Teal remains painfully low, as in single digits low. American Coot was the most numerous of the non-waterfowl water birds except for gulls, with nice concentrations at Pohick and Belmont Bays, and Quantico Creek.
The data indicate that although it was an off year for some of the survey teams, northern Virginia is still a desirable location to study waterfowl. It has been a preferred location for Tundra Swans wintering away from the coast and for Lesser Scaup that are comfortable in the wider portions of the river.
Note that I included data that Fred Atwood provided for a survey he did in King George County during the survey weekend. This is the first time that King George County information has been included in the chart and can be found under the column numbered 31. To compare data from 2016 with totals from previous years for northern Virginia only, just deduct that column from the chart.
Larry Cartwright- compiler
An article about Winter waterfowl mating can be found here.
- Raw Data