A few days ago I saw a swarm of dark-bodied birds circling low over the North Basin water, out of camera range. No idea what they were. They didn’t settle, but they sent a message that the migration season is around the corner. The next day I saw a solo Scaup, but that’s a separate item. This morning the real migration season officially opened with the arrival of at least 65 Bufflehead. That’s an actual count of birds on the surface at the instant I clicked the shutter; several more, no doubt, were on a dive at that moment.
The flock seemed about evenly divided between males and females. As expected, I could not tell whether the solo Bufflehead female who spent the summer here had joined in with the new arrivals. I suspect not; her white streak on the side of the head runs pretty much from front to back. These new females mostly seem to have shorter white streaks. However, I don’t have tight video images of all of them, so I can’t be certain.
I’ve written about these birds before. Last year they arrived en masse a bit later, on November 6. Several hundred birds made up that invasion. Perhaps the 65 or so individuals who arrived today are only the first batch of a much larger migration coming shortly.