Volunteers, state biologists and Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge staff conducted one of the last regular bi-weekly waterfowl surveys of the migratory season at Pee Dee on Thursday morning at the refuge.
Refuge Manager J.D. Bricken, Assistant Manager Greg Walmsley, volunteer Jerome Varick, regional biologist Ken Knight, district biologist Rupert Medford, conservation technician Greg Queen, and Alex Swaringen, with the Wildlife Resource Commission, counted waterfowl from two locations.
Although foggy conditions made birdwatching difficult, the groups still counted thousands of waterfowl. “When detail on a bird is hard to see, we look for speed of wingbeat, flight patterns, patches of color, etc. to identify birds,” Walmsley said.
Walmsley, Varick and Swaringen observed the birds from Anson County, while Bricken, Knight, Medford and Queen did the same from the Richmond County side of the river. This late in the season, the numbers were lower; the last count, two weeks ago, showed approximately 8,000 while Thursday’s totaled roughly 4,055.
Mallard ducks accounted for more than half of the population at roughly 2,137 birds. The group also saw about 659 Ring-necked Ducks, 334 Wood Ducks, 294 Green-winged Teal, 148 Canadian Geese, 106 American Wigeon, 90 Northern Shoveler, eight Redheads, six Northern Pintail, six Pied-billed Grebe, and five American Coot. Three Tundra Swans were also observed at Arrowhead on Wednesday.
Although the area is typically closed off for visitors to avoid disturbing the waterfowl, occasional birdwatching groups do visit. To find out more about waterfowl or the wildlife refuge, visit the refuge at 5770 U.S. Hwy. 52 North in Wadesboro or call 704-694-4424.