Log In

Reset Password

It’s in your nature: Spring thaw brings the ducks

As of March 11, Beltzville and Mauch Chunk lakes still had quite a bit of ice covering their surfaces. (Last year both of these lakes had little ice covering.) My birding buddies and I (selfishly) look forward to a late ice covering because as the many species of ducks begin moving back north to breed, they find these lakes beginning to thaw. The open areas that start appearing on the thawing lakes are temporary feeding/resting areas for them on the migration.

Warmer winters or quickly thawing lakes bring boaters back to these waters. When many boaters are using the lakes, that generally sends the ducks to quieter waters. By the time this column appears, the lakes will be ice free, but all will not be lost if you wish to add some waterfowl to your lists.

Rainy weather is for ducks, and that is quite accurate. On the thawed local lakes you can find a variety of duck species this month and even into mid-April. The key, pick the weather for ducks, a good rainy day. A steady rain often keeps all but the die-hard boaters off the lakes, and as a flock of ducks moves north, our local waters are good rest stops.

Rainy days are often the result of a warm front moving into the area, and the accompanying winds help them in their migration. Even better for waterfowl watchers is when a coastal storm, like a nor’easter forms and can result in some less common waterfowl being “blown” off their course. A strong coastal storm can cause some rarer ducks or grebes to stray farther inland. This Times News area isn’t really that far from the Atlantic Coast, and if you wish to increase your yearly bird list, look for ducks the next month, and don’t let the rain deter you.

It is possible to see about 30 to 35 species of waterfowl in this region. This year I have already recorded 19. Waterfowl make up a third of my bird list in the first few months of the year. Last year the Times News region provided me with the opportunity to view 25 species.

There are certainly many more ducks to see than our common mallards. You don’t need to go too far to add to your list. Lizard and Mahoning Creeks, the Lehigh Canal, the Lehigh River, local farm ponds, and of course Beltzville Lake, Mauch Chunk Lake, and the Bethlehem Reservoirs are all good viewing areas and I’m sure one or some of them are close to you.

Test Your Outdoor Knowledge: In the heart of the leather tanning industry about 70 million ____ trees were cut down just for their bark and the tannin found in it. A. white pine, B. pitch pine, C. hemlock, D. black spruce, E. white ash.

Last Week’s Trivia Answer: Muskrats, preyed upon by many predators, have a short life span averaging about one year.

Note: If you have followed the bald eagle live cams, the first eggs began hatching about March 12. By this printing all should have hatched and you can enjoy watching the feeding and growth of the eaglets. Enjoy, enjoy.

Contact Barry Reed at breed71@gmail.com.

A striking male bufflehead swims in the Parryville Dam. Look for males sputtering across the water's surface trying to impress potential mates. BARRY REED/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
This male horned grebe surfaced at Beltzville Lake after searching for small fish to eat. I seldom find them on small ponds or rivers.
Wood ducks began arriving in our region around March 12. Many will remain to breed along streams such as Lizard Creek.
These gadwalls were found in a local farm pond and can remind you not to overlook any body of water now that the ice has melted.