Waterfowl Migration Reports — Atlantic

Avery Outdoors takes a look at waterfowl migration reports.

January 31, 2014



Name:  Mike Bard

Location:Syracuse, NY

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: This season was much colder than normal and the cold came early.

Winter Snow Summary:  Snow was slightly below average.

Season Water Conditions: Water depths were similar to the last couple years; however a lot of water froze up early.

Overall Feeding Conditions:Conditions were below average due to winter arriving early.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Puddle duck numbers were up some compared to recent years and diver numbers certainly increased, both likely due to being consolidated by several marshes and lakes being frozen early.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Goose numbers were average; however the cold seemed to push geese south earlier leaving lower numbers late in the season.

Notable Duck Migrations:Mid-November and early to mid-December were two good pushes of ducks this season.

Notable Goose Migrations: Two large migrations of geese came through in late September and late October into early November.

Overall Hunting Report:The 2013-2014 season provided excellent hunting opportunities for those who put in the time and effort to move around and brave the harsh late season conditions.

Name:  Dave Weidner

Location: Hamilton Square, New Jersey

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Very COLD

Winter Snow Summary:  Above average

Season Water Conditions: Lots of ice this year.

Overall Feeding Conditions: Good

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Excellent

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Average

Notable Duck Migrations:Christmas Week migration of mallards was epic!

Notable Goose Migrations: Thanksgiving is when they moved in.

Overall Hunting Report:This year’s duck season was great.  We have excellent numbers of ducks in all areas of the state, primarily due to the extreme cold temperatures and the presence of ice.  Coastal duck season will be hard to rival as not only were there lots of ducks, but numerous species to target.  We should only be so lucky as to enjoy this type of hunting every year!

Name:  Marshall Starkey

Location:Church Hill, MD

Notable Weather Changes/Differences: This season marked the return of winter in our area. For the first time in a few years we had sustained cold weather and snow events throughout the season.

Winter Snow Summary:There were three or four snow events from December on that gave us anywhere from four to ten inches at various times. A January storm followed by a long cold snap helped to keep the snow on the ground for a while.

Season Water Conditions: Water levels were average to above average throughout the year, and ice became an issue as the bitter cold set in. Many duck hunters were fighting the ice for the last week or so of the season.

Overall Feeding Conditions:It was a good agricultural year, many farms left standing corn for waterfowl and the winter wheat on our place looked excellent.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Overall numbers were very good a large number of canvasbacks, blue-bills and redheads this year. The marshes of Dorchester had very good numbers of wood ducks during the early season.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: The Upper Shore had as many geese as I have seen in the past five or six years. Very good numbers of Canada and snow geese.

Notable Duck Migrations:The cold weather came and so did the divers this year. It seemed like the gunning got good around Christmas and got better as the temperatures dropped and the season wore on.

Notable Goose Migrations: There was a huge push of geese right around Thanksgiving Day that was probably one of the biggest arrival days of the migration this year. We had a few more pushes when things got bitter up north and then the birds seemed to move around locally as various water sources froze.

Overall Hunting Report:The November split was challenging as the birds weren’t here in force until the final split of the season. The late split had some very good gunning and the last week and a half was on fire for divers and geese.

Name:Sean M. Fritzges

Location: Jarrettsville, MD

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: This season has been a banner year for our group. Success started early during the first split which was the week before Thanksgiving. Cold arctic air pushed through our region actually the week before the early split beginning the wave of Canada geese. Our first two weeks of the season were unbelievable, so much that we didn’t think the success would continue once the second split returned. We were wrong!! The late split was even better!! Geese took over our region by the thousands. All hunters in our area were having no difficulties filling their limits. This success continued into the final week of the season in late January. This has been the best season for geese in our five year lease.

Winter Snow Summary: Off and on snow showers from Christmas to late January. Only one significant storm brought in 10+ inches of snow. The cold arctic and polar crush has continued to keep the snow around for the latter portion of the season.  

Season Water Conditions: Normal tidal flow with ice forming around the bay and its tributaries early due to the extreme cold temps.

Overall Feeding Conditions:Good….farmers harvesting corn and soybeans into Christmas week offered lots of areas for the geese to feed into the later portion of the season.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: No ducks in our area unfortunately.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: The best in five years!!!

Notable Duck Migrations: N/A.

Notable Goose Migrations: Migration started early in late September. We thought this was bad news because once the first split of the AP season there would be no birds as they would have migrated through. That wasn’t the case. Birds continued to migrate through offering exceptional numbers the entire season.

Overall Hunting Report:I couldn’t have asked for a better more successful season. We already have plans and modifications on the drawing boards for the off season. I pray the summer flies by!!!

Name:Kenny Gray 

Location:Chestertown, MD         

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season:  This was the season of the crazy weather, no two days were the same and we covered all the extremes.  Cold up North helped push geese down early, followed by 60’s one day and 20’s the next, more than then any of the recent years, weather dictated when and where you hunted!            

Winter Snow Summary:  Above average snowfall for our region made the last couple of weeks of the season extremely challenging and rewarding. 

Season Water Conditions:  Water conditions were good, ice late in the season helped concentrate birds on the larger bodies of water. 

Overall Feeding Conditions:  As typical, the birds followed their typical feeding habits, grasses during the warm spell and grains when the temperatures dropped.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years:  Duck numbers were up, but the ducks seems to be moving more and more to the flooded impoundments in the areas and way from their typical loafing holes.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years:  Goose numbers were up, we had more birds earlier in the season then the last five years, and the numbers stayed good through-out the season. 

Notable Duck Migrations:  It seemed this year the ducks came in three or four waves unlike the last two years, where the ducks that came all came late. 

Notable Goose Migrations: The geese came early and then more trickled in during the remainder of the season.  It seems we always had a good mix of new birds to work. The numbers are still good going into the last three days of the season. 

Overall Hunting Report:  It’s been a good year over all, didn’t get to hunt as much as I would have liked to but this was the first year I was able to get my 5 year old son out on quite a few hunts and he seems to be hooked so that makes up for not getting out as much as possible.  It was also a good year for hunting with old friends and new.  I am looking forward to next year already, with big plans for the off-season and bigger dreams for next year.   

Name:Jeff Kreit

Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: A lot more cold weather and snow.

Winter Snow Summary:  More snow stayed on the ground than in 10 years.

Season Water Conditions: All lakes and ponds stayed full.

Overall Feeding Conditions:The last 2 weeks geese fed after lunch in the afternoon.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: We had more divers this year.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Had more but still not the numbers we should have.

Notable Duck Migrations:None as of now.

Notable Goose Migrations: Same

Overall Hunting: Hunting was good all season.

Name:Bryn Witmier

Location:Strausstown, PA

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season:Very cold.  We had a cold snap early this year and it remained below average for the remainder of the season.  Long stretches of high temperatures not above freezing are not too common here.  This year they were.

Winter Snow Summary:  About average.  We missed the large snow totals from storms that passed just to our south or north.  The cold weather allowed the snow to stick around a little longer.

Season Water Conditions:  Early in the season we had very little water.  A few good rain events brought levels up during November.  Most small bodies of water froze in the beginning of December and haven’t opened up since.  Right now, if the water doesn’t have current it is frozen.

Overall Feeding Conditions:  Good, we never got enough snow to really prevent birds from feeding in dry fields.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years:  Excellent.  Ice and cold weather really concentrated birds.  It also forced mallards and blacks to feed in dry fields.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Average.

Notable Duck Migrations:  We saw a good push of ducks around Christmas.

Notable Goose Migrations:Geese trickled through from November through the middle of December.  After each large snow event in NY we saw new birds.

Overall Hunting Report:  This is thefirst “normal” winter we have had in the past three years.  Hunting was great.  I will take a year like this every year! 

Name:  Kevin Addy

Location:Reading, PA

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Much colder and more precipitation.

Winter Snow Summary:  We had a few storms that dropped anywhere from 3-12” of snow. The cold weather made it stick around longer than usual.

Season Water Conditions: Low through most of the season and then we received a lot of rain. We iced up earlier than normal and it stayed that way through the end of the south zone duck and AP Canada season.

Overall Feeding Conditions:The feeding conditions were pretty good and even with the snow cover and ice, enough birds stayed around to make for good hunting.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: The numbers were up and we had a lot of different ducks around.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: The numbers were up overall but fluctuated a lot due to pressure and frozen water. We only lost birds during a few of the real cold snaps and I think most of them just relocated for a week.

Notable Duck Migrations:Late December

Notable Goose Migrations: I didn’t see a real big push untilDecember. It usually happens in October but this year the birds tricked down more often instead of a few big pushes.

Overall Hunting Report:The hunting was great. The cold weather we were missing the last few years concentrated the birds more and gave them a need to feed. We had a bigger variety around and a lot of different options. I hope next year is the same.

Name:Lawrence Mauck

Location:  Richmond, Virginia

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season:  The end of the duck season brought consistently low temps freezing all small and land locked water.  Spoke with a lot of hunters who were completely frozen out on closing day.

Winter Snow Summary:  We had one good day of winter snow, with reports of heavier snow coming during the remainder of the eastern goose season.

Season Water Conditions: Overall water conditions remained at normal levels until frozen.

Overall Feeding Conditions:No acorn drop this year so small timber holes and swamps provided little acorns for forage.  Birds were looking to rivers and marshes.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Puddle duck numbers compared to years past were low in my opinion. With an inconsistent weather pattern there was no real way to pattern birds.  Big water loaded up with large amounts of cans and red heads.  

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years:  I thought goose numbers were way up this year.

Notable Duck Migrations:When the first big freeze hit there was a significant push of birds.

Notable Goose Migrations:It was the same for geese.

Overall Hunting Report:  Overall I would rate the season as average.  Next year’s food supply should be bountiful and we could expect to see ducks more spread out and not so concentrated on one food source.  The goose season still remains in and birds and goose numbers should remain strong until the end of February.

Name:Richard Foley

Location:Fairfield, NC

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: We had much better weather this season than last year. It was much cooler and we had significant fronts push through which moved a lot of birds south for us this year.

Winter Snow Summary:  First big snow is today 1/28, expected to get 12 inches.

Season Water Conditions: Water remained good for us most of the year. The only problem we encountered was over the past couple of weeks with it freezing on us.

Overall Feeding Conditions:Feeding conditions have remained good for the entire county due to the growing number of flooded agricultural fields. Waterfowl in general have great access to a lot of food.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: This year we had a great push of ducks. The weather really helped us.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Goose numbers went up as well. I saw a lot more geese not only on the refuge, but also in the fields.

Notable Duck Migrations:The most notable difference I saw was the amount of Pintails and Widgeon we had. There are always a good amount of both in the region; however this year they were everywhere. Also we had good numbers of Cans and Redheads sound side.

Notable Goose Migrations: Canada geese were plentiful. However, I didn’t see as many snows as I had in the past.

SWANS: We also had upwards of 150,000 wintering swans on the lake as well!

Overall Hunting Report:We definitely had a better year than we did last year. Good weather and a good hatch made this season one to remember. Also, try to take a kid hunting on Saturday everyone; the youth day should be a good one.