Bufflehead Country in Spring 29 April 2016

It’s a fine clear day across the Bufflehead’s domain and the snow is receding into the southern boreal forest. The Mackenzie Valley is still frozen. They reach their northern most habitat near the Arctic Circle which is the north side of Great Bear Lake ( evident in the first image below.)
The Quill Lakes in eastern Saskatchewan stand out from space as the last waterbody within Palliser’s Triangle to hold its ice. At 640 square km, its one of the six largest saline lakes in North America. Its late break-up is related to its geo-chemical properties, and is a phenological standard by which to gauge the departure time of the yearling Buffleheads.
(The Quill Lakes are the site of the Great Bufflehead Crash of November 1940.)
The morning count gave 79, and that included only a single adult drake, and, very strangely, he was hauled up on the west beach. They rarely ever set foot on shore here, unless they’re in distress or injured, though this one seems healthy enough.
At present 17:20, some are resting / sleeping, but most are feeding intensively in a concentrated spot in the northwest corner of the bay. Its not been possible to get an accurate count yet, but two more drakes have appeared since the morning.
I’d say it’s looking like a go tonite.
satellite 1
satellite 2
Buffleheads 3

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