The March Sun

Five days ago I published a post featuring the continuation of severe winter weather and wild turkeys struggling to survive. Within hours of that story, the average daily temperature rose 30 degrees F, deep snow cover began to consolidate and melt, and frozen surface waters started to thaw.  Overwhelmed by the increasing intensity and duration of the March sun, Winter is in retreat.

The first thaw in over two months had an immediate and profound effect on winter landscapes and animal behaviors. One can see it, feel it, smell it — spring is just around the corner!

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Geese and mallards on open water in a thawing wetland

Dabbling and diving ducks on a narrow, ice-free section of a small, wooded canal (3):

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Mallard drake

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Pair of Gadwalls

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Ring-necked Duck

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

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6 thoughts on “The March Sun

  1. Yeah! sun!!! it is almost blinding and I don’t blame the ducks and geese for finding this open water in which to sun themselves. By-the-way—good photos….

  2. That is great winter is relenting. I was just at a preserve today and the lakes are still ice covered and it was 50°F today. It makes me wonder when we will get the thaw. River ice is still along shores, and soon the ice boom will be lifted, sending all the Great Lake ice west of us down the river. Poor ducks will have to leave the open river then. Nice duck photos. I rarely see the Gadwalls.

    • Thanks Donna. Most of our reservoirs are still frozen. The smaller waters that I’m checking (the streams, ponds, wetlands, canals that sometimes provide close encounters) are influenced by springs and therefore thawing more quickly (or never froze over completely). The ice breakup and river flow that you describe must be an amazing ecological event, even a little scary if you’re close. Gadwalls are new to me and their story of success and increase over the last 30-40 years is very interesting. According to my older (pre-1980) field guides, they’re not even supposed to be here. I have no doubt seen them before and didn’t realize it. The hen looks like a mallard and the dun-colored drake disappears in the shadows. I photographed them again today, still excited about something that the serious birders/waterfowlers in the area have know for years. 🙂

      • Since you mentioned they look like a mallard, are they bigger? I saw an odd mallard looking duck that may have been one. I have photos on GWGT of the ice flow in previous years, but if I think about it, I will get photos this year. It is like being in Alaska I think with huge ice slabs all piled on top of each other, trying to make room in the narrower river. The bird life really has to relocate when the ice makes that journey. It makes our area have a cooler, later and longer spring too.

  3. It’s about time for winter to bow out I’d say. We’ re grateful for some sprinkles the last couple of days. This end of the country has been far too dry for my liking.

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