Colder weather has brought an influx of migrating waterfowl into the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. From Rhode Island down to Delaware, hunters are reporting that fresh flights of mallards, black ducks, and other waterfowl have recently arrived from the north.
More sea ducks are also trickling in along the coast. Scoters are leading the advanced guard, but eiders and long-tailed ducks should be right on their heels. Expect waterfowl numbers to increase with each good cold front.
“I’ve noticed a definite uptick in puddle duck numbers. Black ducks are showing up in the salt marshes and other puddle ducks are building in the inland swamps, rivers and marshes,” says Josh Beuth, president of the South Shore Ducks Unlimited Chapter in Rhode Island, former state waterfowl biologist, and Mossy Oak pro-staff member. “Everything appears to be coming together for a solid opener the day before Thanksgiving. “
The action is a bit slower off the coast, but Beuth is optimistic. “Sea duck numbers are low in contrast to puddlers. Despite a few strong nor’easters, birds haven’t pushed south in large numbers. With about three weeks to go before the sea duck season opens, there is still time for eider numbers to build.”
Beuth recommends that hunters should focus on areas that attract a variety of species to maximize their harvest opportunities and take advantage of the two-bird limit on black ducks.
Bob Vellucci has been hunting the rivers, lakes, fields and coastline of New Jersey for decades. He has observed a good push of new birds into the Garden State after the recent cold front. “The cold weather brought a lot of ducks down from the north. We’re seeing good numbers of black ducks, mallards, and a few teal on the ponds and backwaters,” he says.
Vellucci says there are also plenty of geese feeding in the cut corn and roosting on the bigger rivers. But all is not lost if you can’t line up permission to hunt a hot field. “If you can’t get in on a good feed, look for smaller waters where honkers loaf during the day,” he advises.
More waterfowl are also arriving daily along the Jersey shore. “The salt marshes are filled with brant, and black ducks can be found in all the usual spots. We also saw a big push of scoters off the coast,” Vellucci says.
Mossy Oak Pro-Staffer Jon Walczak reports that good numbers of ducks have arrived in Delaware. “There’s a little bit of everything around. I even shot a spoonie the other day,” he says. “There are tons of scoters in the lower bay. Diver hunters should head to the back bays if they want to decoy buffleheads. There are some ringnecks in the area too.”
Prospects are also good for Delaware goose hunters as Canada and greater snow goose numbers are building in the state. Walczak says hunters should make the most of their opportunities during the early season before the birds get educated.