Bantam Lake Finally Freezes Over!

Bantam Lake's Outlet as viewed from the
Pt. Folly observation platform in a photo
taken by Ashley Hayes 5 weeks before the rest
of the Lake iced-over on 1/16/2012
Bald Eagles, photo by Paul Fusco from
Canada Geese photo by Bob Stanowski
Mallard photo from
Northern Pintail photo by Tom Munson
As of yesterday, 1/16/2012, most of Bantam Lake had frozen over. This is amazingly late! As usual, the Outlet and the Bantam River downstream all the way to Rt. 209 has remained ice-free. This is typical except in the most severely cold winters. Though much of the waterfowl that had been seen daily at the Lake so far this winter left in the past 3 days, huge numbers of Canada Geese and Mallards, along with fair numbers of American Black Ducks and Ring-necked Ducks, 3 Lesser Scaup, a Northern Pintail, 3 Hooded Mergansers, and at least 101 American Coots have remained in the open water of the Outlet. The geese and Mallards have fallen into a winter activity mode of foraging in cornfields in Litchfield, Morris, Bethlehem, Warren, and Goshen by day, and roosting at the Outlet from sunset until sunrise. Thus, it is best to look for these birds either from the N. Shore Rd. bridge over the Bantam River or the Pt. Folly observation platform between 7 and 8 a.m. or 4 and 5:30 p.m. Any other time of day will produce a lot less. This has been highlighted by our counts Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The morning observations, made by Mike Doyle, produced counts of 725, 500, 800, and 800 Canada Geese and 3, 52, 5, and 13 Mallards for these 4 days, respectively. John Eykelhoff didn't find more than 65 Canada Geese and 10 Mallards on his noon-time visits here these days. However, Jim Kandefer and I counted 1,075 Canada Geese and 500 Mallards coming in to roost here between 4:30 p.m. and dark on Monday, and Jim Dugan and I counted 675 Canada Geese and 175 Mallards doing the same thing during the same time frame on Wednesday. No evening counts were conducted on Tuesday or Thursday. During both evening counts, more geese and Mallards flew in from the north than from the south. We didn't see any fly in from the east or west. It doesn't appear as though many of the 65 American Black Ducks that we saw come in Wednesday evening stayed, as only 9 were counted at the Outlet the next morning. We haven't been able to relocate the hen Northern Pintail that we saw Monday evening. The numbers of American Coots and Lesser Scaup have been dropping steadily all week as these birds exit the area. Greg Hanisek saw a Greater Scaup there Wednesday mid-morning, but we haven't been able to find that bird again. Some birds do only drop in to rest here for a few hours before moving on. As many as 4 Bald Eagles hanging around the Outlet at various times has also been a disincentive for some birds to stay here. It will be interesting to see what the rest of the winter brings.

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