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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Migration Update: Dec. 15, 2010 - Atlantic Flyway

Winter weather has waterfowl moving in Atlantic Flyway
  • photo by Newey Rand
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By Tom Keer

Bitter cold winter weather currently gripping the Atlantic Flyway has had a major impact on waterfowl movements in recent weeks. These conditions are what sea duck and diver hunters in northeastern states dream of, while waterfowlers in the Mid-Atlantic and south Atlantic states are enjoying recent influxes of waterfowl, especially dabbling ducks. Following are dispatches from key migration stopovers throughout the flyway.

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

According to waterfowler Tom Cook of Port Byron, N.Y., more than two feet of snow has blanketed the Empire State's Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, pushing most dabblers south. A few mallards and black ducks remain on neighboring rivers that are still ice free. Good numbers of Canada geese remain in the area as well as divers, mostly redheads and bluebills, on the big water.

Edwin Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge

Craig Bittler, a New Jersey wildlife biologist, says the 47,000-acre Edwin Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge is the place to be right now. During the fall migration, the 1,415 acres of impounded fresh and brackish water is flooded to provide stopover habitat for tens of thousands of waterfowl.

This week's arctic blast has pushed many of the dabbling ducks south, but large numbers of mallards, black ducks, buffleheads, goldeneyes, common eiders, long-tailed ducks, and Atlantic brant are concentrated on brackish and salt marshes. It's hard to imagine that great hunting is possible only 10 miles from Atlantic City, but Forsythe is loaded with waterfowl.

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

Captain Andy Linton (www.chincoteague.com) is optimistic about Eastern Virginia's second duck season Linton hunts 14,000 acres of marshes around Assateague Island, and has welcomed the below-freezing temperatures.

"The warm weather during the first season stalled the migration," Linton said. "The recent cold snap created some slush ice higher up in the marsh and the puddle ducks have moved around. We're seeing great numbers of green-winged teal, blacks, mallards, pintails, and shovelers. Divers will continue to arrive as the temperature drops, and there are already big numbers of bluebills, long-tailed ducks, and buffleheads. Goose season is closed, but the brant population is unbelievably healthy."

DU Migration Map Report

Ocean City, Md.

D. Gray reported increasing numbers & migrations of diving ducks
Submitted: 12/14/2010
Temp: 21-30 degrees
Weather: Snow
Wind: 10-15 mph

Comments: Starting to see more divers, Went out with some buddies this morning and saw a bunch of canvasback/bluebill and seeing a lot more activity in "the pond." Good luck everyone.

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