CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia's duck and goose hunters could have a lot of fun over the next few weeks.
A series of winter storms has pushed a smorgasbord of waterfowl southward into the Mountain State, just in time for the season's final segment.
"There's not much doubt that all this weather has moved some birds south," said Steve Wilson, waterfowl project leader for the state Division of Natural Resources. "One of the benefits of that is that we get some duck species we don't usually see here."
For hunters accustomed to seeing mostly mallards, black ducks and Canada geese, that's good news indeed.
"When the weather is right, hunters can see a little bit of everything," Wilson said. "Ring-necked ducks, buffleheads, goldeneyes, widgeon, scaup, gadwalls, shovelers, canvasbacks, and even a scoter or two. Chances are you wouldn't see any of those species in big numbers, but you could definitely see them."
Dave Hackathorn, who runs a duck- and goose-hunting guide service in St. Marys, confirmed Wilson's observations.
"We're getting a shove [of birds moving south]," Hackathorn said. "I scout every day, and I'm seeing some James Bay geese and even a few migrating snow geese and tundra swans.
"I'm also seeing lots of black ducks and some widgeon. I saw a raft of bluebills this morning, along with some ring-necks, buffleheads and mergansers."
Some of the most accurate reports of waterfowl movements come from birders who post sightings on the Internet.
One recent report showed a flock of 50 gadwalls, a sizable flock of hooded mergansers, four ring-necked ducks, a northern shoveler, a redhead, a green-winged teal and a greater scaup hanging out on the Kanawha River near the Winfield Locks.