2014 Mass Influx of Buffleheads Occurred on October 27

Widgeon ducks feeding near Mermaid Creek Delta, October 27, 2014

Widgeon ducks feeding near Mermaid Creek Delta, October 27, 2014

Well that seat-of-the-pants prediction, late last night, didn’t quite pan out. The Buffleheads arrived this morning under heavy overcast conditions, a day earlier than I guessed.

Yesterday morning as we travelled down the highway to Victoria, the rain came down in a deluge and we chuckled at Environment Canada’s forecast of scattered showers, however by the time the rowing regatta began on the Gorge, we looked out of place in our rain gear, as the warm sun broke out. When we returned, I noted that large numbers of Wigeon had appeared around Mermaid Delta so after photographing them, I bailed my boat and took one last trip with Blitzen-the-Dog out in Sidney Channel to the spit.

Since the Murre and Guillemot migration in September and early October, the waters are now barren, except for a large aggregation of California Gulls (900- 1000, and some Herring Gulls) on the north spit. There were no Heermann’s gulls. A good number of the California Gulls were scattered over the shallow waters on the north side of the spit, and it made me wonder how such a large flock makes a living, using a different hunting technique compared to Mew and Heermann’s gulls.

Today at least one of the Beaufort Grove eagles has been carrying nesting material back to its long-time eyrie in a Douglas Fir.

I counted 76 Buffleheads, including 29 drakes. This influx is right on average and three days earlier than last season’s rapid mass influx.

Kerry Finley

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