American Coots — the plump black duck-like birds with bright white beaks — have been arriving in the North Basin in modest numbers yesterday and today. This afternoon I counted one flock of nine near the Burrowing Owl preserve, another flock of seven just south of the Open Circle artwork, and a third flock of about a dozen farther out on the water. That compares to five who ignored the spring migration and were active here in mid-summer, and just three who were visible a few days ago at the start of October. If the usual pattern holds up, there’ll be hundreds of Coots here by mid-winter. (P.S.: Coots are not ducks, they’re rails.)
The Mallard population also appears to have grown. Some of these birds have lived here all summer. This afternoon I saw two pairs swimming southward near the east border of the park. A few days ago I counted more than thirty of them on the other side of the North Basin, along the coast behind the sports fields at the foot of Gilman Street.