|Early Morning Mist|
|Glimpse of White|
|Mists Blur Identification|
|Later, It's Clear to See a Bufflehead Couple|
|Gang of Ringed-Necks|
|Resident Merganser Couple|
|The Spring Party Continues|
White in April means one thing on Elmira Pond -- the buffleheads are passing through.
Todd stomps dewy grass from his shoes as he enters the house from taking the dogs outside. "Hey, Hon!" He shouts upstairs, thinking I'm still snuggled in the warmth of bed. "Pure white ducks on the pond!"
"Buffleheads," I respond from my window perch.
We argue; the stairs a buffer between one of many bird disagreements we have the way other couples might share breakfast. He can't offer what they are instead, but definitely, they are not buffleheads.
If we ever did see ghosts, I'd see a woman and he'd see a man. Perspectives shift like the pond fog and what we can't see our imaginations fill in the blanks. I'd like to think my imagination is stronger than his, but that doesn't mean I'm right. However, I'm the lurking bird watcher of this pond and I know the buffleheads have returned.
Buffleheads are noted for a large ox-head that sits on their bodies in a disproportionate way. Unlike the ringed-necks that can stretch or mallards with heads propped on elegant necks, this mostly white duck resembles an ox or a buffalo. Thus the name buffalo-headed -- bufflehead.
What this duck lacks in neck grace, the males make up for in elegant colors. His head is iridescent greenish purple-black with a giant white patch that stretches from eye to crown. His body is mostly white with a tapering black back. The females are dull grayish-brown with a distinct white cheek patch that helps identify the males when one's own spouse is in doubt.
I won the duck argument. This time.
Later in the morning, after the mist dissipated beneath the warming rays of sunshine, one male and one female bufflehead slept on the basking log as ringed-necks swam around the pond with vigor. Earlier, I was certain I had seen two males and a female, but now I can only spot the sleeping couple.
The ringed-necks scoot across to the southern end where the hooded merganser couple are paddling. The geese are half-hidden by last winter's dry reeds. The mallards are hunkered down out of sight.
The early morning ghosts have stayed, but for how long? Who will nest and who will fly elsewhere? We wait and watch and welcome two buffleheads to the spring party.