On February 19th, I went for my usual after work walk at Gog-le-hi-te and ran into Mary Pearse and Richard Smethurst. We had a very nice conversation and watched 2 unusually bold Coyotes in the central meadow feeding on something unseen near the small pond on the edge of the meadow. After parting ways with Mary and Richard I continued my loop around, when i came back around past the small pond, I noticed a dead Mallard at the edge of the pond, then another, and another. Continuing along the flooded ditch that is connected to the pond, I saw more. I went down into the meadow to get better looks and ended up counting between 35-40 dead Mallards. I have been walking this area for years and have never seen anything like this before. I suffer from insomnia and sometimes walk the wetlands at night looking for Owls and such, and I know that mallards as well as Green-winged Teal roost in this pond when it is flooded, but I saw no dead Teal.
Looking back, I should have reported this event but I didn't, I did think about what could have been the reason for many days, but couldn't come up with anything. I thought it was just one of those things that happens in nature, and reporting it would fall on deaf ears. I was wrong. Mallards were unusually scarce for several days, then some returned and began pairing up in the flooded woods nearer the parking lot. This happens every year about this time and baby Mallards soon follow. However, today the absence of Mallards in the flooded woods was noticeable compared to yesterday, and I saw several more dead Mallards in the reeds in the flooded woods. I have no clue what is causing this and it doesn't seem to affect the Teal.
As I was leaving today, a biologist from the Port of Tacoma and one from the WSDFW showed up and were collecting the remaining dead birds and putting them in a trash bag. They told me that someone did report the deaths and we talked a little bit. They said the birds were being sent off to try to determine the cause of death, I told them there were more dead birds in the flooded woods that were not there yesterday, and the paired up birds were all gone. So this is a true mystery and and I learned the lesson that there are those who care and want to find the reason if you ever see something like this. The Usual year round Mallard flock has been reduced by many birds here and it seems to still be happening... If any of you are connected with the WSDFW and eventually find out what is causing this, or have seen anything like this before i would be very interested to find out.