Starting in December of 1988, the Lloyd Center began using waterbird surveys of Allens Pond estuary in Dartmouth to assess the importance of the system to American Black Ducks (Anas rubripes), a migratory “dabbling duck” species that relies almost exclusively on estuaries for food during winter.
Many other waterfowl species are present in coastal water bodies during winter, including familiar species such as Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) and Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) which may breed locally but shift to estuaries when freshwater freezes.
Diving ducks such as Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) or Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) are examples of long distance migrants arriving here during late fall, and are present only seasonally.
Through time, and with the help of a various volunteers (including long-time contributors), a regional assessment of all waterfowl utilizing flowing estuaries and coastal ponds from the Sakonnet River in Rhode Island to Apponagansett Bay in Dartmouth came to be known as the “Annual Lloyd Center Winter Waterfowl Survey”. This includes twenty-one systems within the towns of Dartmouth and Westport in MA, and Tiverton and Little Compton in RI.
Each winter in early December (early winter) and late January/early February (mid-winter) surveys are conducted – the two surveys accounting for differences in both migration schedules of waterfowl species and ice coverage that is based upon weather patterns.
On the two Sundays when surveying takes place, volunteers identify and count all individuals present at their respective sites, and estimate the percentage of ice coverage, given that ice is a limiting factor for waterfowl abundance.
Below are totals from 2000 – present with the most recent season (2014/2015) indicated in bold:
|Average =||5264 waterfowl|
|year||total waterfowl||ice % (low, moderate, high)|
|2009||4589||Moderate to high|
|2010||5434||moderate to high|
|2011||4738||moderate to high|
|Average =||6129 waterfowl|