Went out to the marsh on Saturday to do a day of ducking with my wife. Very slow day for the most part, but we ended up finding a nice little hole, where the birds wanted to be, and shot 2 limits, with most of the shots being made on nicely decoyed birds. Its always nice to be able to shoot birds that are working as opposed to those that are just passing by. Anyways, towards the end of our limits, a nice drake gadwall comes in and tries to make friends with the closest group of decoys, and he pays for his mistake, I didn't even notice the band till after it was in the pile. The band was very worn, the numbers were hard to see and the metal was thin...meaning this was an older bird. I reported the band on the BBL website, and the information came back on this bird. It was banded in August of 2004, in Oregon. I thought this was very strange. I'd guess this bird was hatched in Oregon, as it was banded in August, but he evidently has migrated north in the spring. I wouldn't have guessed a bird hatched down south would migrate to AK, but he did. I think he chose the wrong friends, and paid for the mistake.
As for the number of birds, I'd say they are lower than I've seen in the past, but most of the local ducks are just plain shot out and off the marsh. We've been able to collect our limts, or very close to them, everytime out this year, but it definately hasn't been as fast as it has been.
I've watched the numbers of birds using the marsh dropping noticably over the last 7 or 8 years, and I think the marsh just gets too much continuous pressure. Used to be, a guy would go out during the week, and find himself alone on the marsh. In the last few years, their are multiple guys on the marsh on any given day. The marsh isn't all that big, in relative terms, and I dont think gets the rest that it needs to keep the numbers of birds on it like it used to. Just my opinion on the lower numbers these days.