Lake Champlain South Bay

Lake Champlain’s South Bay offers some of the finest birding for shore and marsh species in the region! Migratory waterfowl flock to the lake in spring and fall. Osprey, Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher, Sandpipers and many other shorebirds are common. Open water or ice holes cut by fishermen near the public pier attract Bald Eagles in winter. Golden Eagle sightings are reported almost every year, usually during migration, although it’s the fortunate bird watcher who sees one.

This area is best explored from canoe or kayak. A public boat launch 2 ½ miles north of Whitehall on Route 22 offers ample parking and a privy next to the South Bay Fishing Pier. From the launch head north to the mouth of the Poultney River, where Great Blue and Green herons, Belted Kingfisher, Wood Ducks, Black Ducks and other species are common. Peregrine Falcons can sometimes be spotted circling overhead; they nest in the cliffs nearby. You’ll paddle along the edge of The Nature Conservancy owned Helen Buckner Preserve. Located on the Vermont side of the border, the preserve offers miles of trails and good birding.

For the adventurous, head south under the bridge for a 3 mile paddle to the “Diameter.” An inlet stream and wild rice marshes offer your best opportunity for viewing Bald Eagles and an abundance of ducks and geese - especially during migration! Keep an eye out for rare sightings, including Black-crowned Night Heron, Pied-billed Grebe and Least Bittern. Note: Rattlesnakes may be in the area.