The days are growing longer, temperatures have climbed to well above freezing and the river’s thick covering of ice is breaking up. In open water the vanguard of spring migration has arrived – waterfowl stopping to rest and feed on the river as they head north.
Most of the ducks that have graced the river in the last few days breed far beyond northcentral Pennsylvania, some above the Arctic Circle. Often the birds gather in flocks comprised of several species.
A closer look at the flock revealed that it was primarily composed of redheads –
But there were a lot of other species mixed in – a lone female white-winged scoter –
Quite a few lesser scaup, almost all males –
A female common goldeneye –
And a couple of male canvasbacks among the redheads –
Nearby were several female red-breasted mergansers –
And a hooded merganser –
The flocks will soon move on to their breeding grounds; perhaps we'll see them in the fall as they head south, perhaps we'll have to wait until next spring to see them again.