Bufflehead Open Fall Migration Season

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.

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