By Wendy Langhans
In southwestern Wisconsin, the opening day of duck huntingmight as well be a national holiday, or so says my Dad. He ought to know; he’s been hunting ducks formore than 60 years.
This year, the season begins at 9:00 AM on Saturday morning. Dad will be there, of course, along with hishunting buddy Vic. And so will the ducks : mallards and wood ducks and pintails andmergansers, all part of the great yearly north/south migration along the greatMississippi Flyway.
Male mallard ducks have deep green feathers on their headand neck.
In Wisconsin, the wildfowl pause to eat and drink in themarshlands and sloughs among the Mississippi River bottomlands. (I compare this to stopping at a rest stop onthe I-5, where you can refuel the car and grab some munchies and a soda). Then, when the wind and weather conditionsare right, they continue their journey south. A strong, dry, northerly wind, the kind that often occurs after a coldfront, creates a helpful tailwind that can double or even triple a duck’s 30-50mph airspeed into a groundspeed of 100-150 mph.
In North America, we have four flyways : the Atlantic, Mississippi, Central andPacific. I visualize a flyway as abraided pigtail, with various strands weaving and connecting from the summerbreeding grounds in Alaska and western Canada with the wintering grounds inCentral America. Each year, millions ofbirds (more that 350 species) follow the Pacific “highway in the sky”.
A map of the Pacific Flyway courtesy of US Fish andWildlife Service.
As you can see from the map, Southern California is anintegral part of the Pacific Flyway. Migrating wildfowl pause in refuges throughout the Sacramento Valley, theSalton Sea and salt water estuaries in Los Angeles. And closer to home, they also take advantageof the land along our Santa Clara River.
This year I’ll be really surprised if Dad comes anywhereclose to bagging his limit. He’s blindin his left eye (his shooting eye) and at the ripe old age of 87, his reactiontime is slower than it used to be. Butas he’s said many times before, “I may not hit anything, but I’ll certainlygive ‘em a scare.” As for me, I thinkI’ll celebrate opening day by going for a walk around Bridgeport Lake and watchingthe returning coots. (By the way, inWisconsin the daily limit for mallards is 4. The limit for coots is 15).
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
Weekend Errands. Nowyou can recycle your compact fluorescent light bulbs at your local HomeDepot Store . Take your expired, unbroken lamps to the returns counter atany Home Depot Store. According torecent Waste Management newsletter, one CFL can save $30 in energy costs overits lifetime, reduce coal consumption by 200 pounds and prevent more than 400pounds of greenhouse gas emission. But carrythose expired bulbs carefully, because they contain toxins .
Sunday, October 12, 6:30-8:30 PM. Full Moon Hike at Towsley Canyon.
Suitable for famlies. Bring water and wear close-toedshoes. Flashlight optional.
For maps and directions, click here .
Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and ConservationAuthority.
Saturday, October 11 and 25th, and every Wednesday, 8:00am. Trail Maintenance Volunteers atTowsley Canyon.
Come join our trail maintenance volunteers for camaraderieand a heart-thumping workout. For moreinformation contact Steve Ioerger  at661-291-1565.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radiostation KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and ConservationAuthority.