JUST DUCKY: We are suffering through a drought, but Ducks Unlimited, the national waterfowl organization, reports another wet, banner year for duck nesting in the northern prairies. DU reports that U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service surveyors found 43.8 million ducks in the survey area, the most since studies began in 1955 and 34 percent above the long-term average. DU says that could lead to the biggest fall flight in half a century.

"Virtually all the news this year is good," said DU chief biologist Bruce Batt. Among the species, mallards were up 15 percent, greenwing teal were up 35 percent, bluewing teal were up 13 percent, pintails were up 21 percent and scaup were up 27 percent.

SENECA SLOG: The Sierra Club has a moderately paced eight-mile hike over flat terrain scheduled for Saturday at Seneca Creek State Park in Montgomery County. The trip leader will be Dan Ryan, 301-622-5259.

SMALLIES: Free State Flyfishers plans an afternoon outing to the upper Potomac to fish for smallmouth bass Saturday. Participants will meet at Johnson Lumber in Millersville at 12:30 p.m. and carpool. To prepare, a flytying session is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Wednesday at Davidsonville Recreation Center on Queen Anne Bridge Road. Newcomers are welcome. Call Ken Moser, 410-544-4861.

HELP WANTED: The organization "Keep Loudoun Beautiful" is seeking volunteer boaters to help in a Potomac River cleanup from Point of Rocks to the Monocacy River on Aug. 20. Participants will pick up floating trash. Canoeists and motor-boaters with flat-bottom skiffs are needed to transport the junk away. Call John Phillips, 703-771-1770, or Kelly Gower, 703-777-7989.

NET GAINS: The Audubon Naturalist Society is organizing a survey of fish living in the tidal Patuxent River at Jug Bay in Upper Marlboro on Saturday. Volunteers must be willing to wade waist-deep while manning seine nets. Call 410-741-9330.