Migration Alert: New Ducks on Chesapeake Bay and in the Mid-Atlantic

Dec. 18, 2017 – Atlantic Flyway – Mid-Atlantic Region

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Photo © Michael Furtman

By Michael R. Shea, Atlantic Flyway Migration Editor 

Cold temperatures and snow throughout the northeast this past weekend kicked the Atlantic Flyway waterfowl migration into top gear. Geese, puddle ducks, and diver sightings have spiked across the Mid-Atlantic region, with an especially strong showing reported on Chesapeake Bay. 

While driving up Maryland’s Eastern Shore on Saturday, I saw big groups of snow geese migrating into the area. Canada goose numbers were also strong, and I received reports from several outfitters whose clients took their limits over the weekend. 

I managed to setup for a morning duck hunt on the Susquehanna Flats with Jake McPherson, Ducks Unlimited’s regional biologist in Maryland. We took a diverse bag of birds, including scaup, buffleheads, mallards, black ducks, and a Canada goose. 

“This is a fairly typical bag for the flats,” McPherson said. “And it’s only going to get better from here on out.” 

During my visit, I heard multiple reports of good puddle duck hunting on the lower shore and in Sussex County, as well as along the Delaware coast. With the cold weather up north pushing more and more birds into the region, much of Delmarva, it seems, has swung into full-time waterfowl migration mode. 

This coming week, temperatures are expected to warm up, with highs hitting the mid-50s on Tuesday. Rain, with lows in the high 40s, is expected this weekend. While the migration will likely slow down until the next major cold front, there are already plenty of puddlers, divers, and geese to hunt. If you’re in the Chesapeake Bay region and don’t know what you want for Christmas, ask Santa for a morning in the blind.

Read and submit migration reports to the DU Migration Map.

Michael R. Shea is a New York–based freelance writer, who hunts waterfowl throughout the Atlantic Flyway. Shea will be providing habitat and hunting reports for the Atlantic Flyway during the 2016−2017 waterfowl season.