By Tom Keer
Several key migratory choke points throughout the Northern Atlantic Flyway have seen an increase in waterfowl numbers this week. Reports from wildlife refuges and DU's Migration Map are showing that low temperatures and more consistent snow have pushed puddlers and divers into traditional migration corridors.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts: The Labrador Current runs from the northeastern tip of Massachusetts at Plum Island all the way south to Cape Cod. Migratory species from striped bass to waterfowl travel this corridor. So, when ducks arrive at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, it's not long before they continue on to parts of the Cape.
Typical patterns call for big flocks to hit certain areas and then to spread out across a wide variety of spots. This year is no different, and duck hunters will find thousands of ducks in Pleasant Bay, particularly on the inside of Chatham's South Beach. Eider, oldsquaw, surf scoter, and hooded mergansers are around in tremendous numbers, with large numbers of black ducks higher up in the marsh. You'll find similar patterns at Barnstable Harbor, with big flocks of divers off the beach and in the mouth. Brant are in the eelgrass and there are some puddle ducks inside the marsh, mostly blacks, some mallards, and some late teal. On the western end, you'll find a similar pattern in Buzzard's Bay from Falmouth to Waquoit Bay.
Look for these big concentrations of birds to dissipate over the next few weeks and to spread throughout Cape Cod.
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge: Snow and below-freezing temperatures have moved the ducks and geese around quite a bit in central New York. With daytime temperatures in the low 30s and nighttime temperatures in the mid-20s, skim ice is forming in the shallows of the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. The edge ice has pushed around the puddle ducks, but there are good numbers of diver ducks in the deeper water.
Field hunting has been outstanding for geese, with the snow causing big flocks of geese to hit the remaining corn and fill up fields with winter rye. Cold temperatures are predicted for the next week.
Charlestown, Rhode Island: Late fall migratory patterns at the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge in Charlestown, Rhode Island, are in full swing. Daytime temperatures are still in the mid-40s, with strong winds that are moving big flocks of birds. Ninigret is known for its salt marshes, glacial kettle ponds, and freshwater wetlands. Large concentrations of migrating waterfowl are holding on the 868-acre refuge and connecting salt pond.
The freshwater areas are holding mostly black ducks, mallards, and some pintail. In the saltwater, the largest numbers of ducks for this week are hooded and red-breasted mergansers, bufflehead, goldeneye, oldsquaw, brant, surf scoter and ruddy ducks. For more information on Ninigret, check out the refuge's website at http://fws.gov/ninigret.
Glen Burnie, Maryland
T. Patschorke reported Increasing numbers & migrations of Diving Ducks
Temp: 31 - 40 degrees
Wind: 10 - 15 mph
Comments: saw more mallards. very vocal. saw the last of the woodies. went out on a diver hunt more of just to scout, but would shoot if a duck would come in. Saw tons of scoter and had one come into the dekes. At the very end had mallards flying to their roost spot. Can't wait for the main push of puddles and geese! PUMPED!!!!!!
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