Saturday, 26 November 2016

(Lesser Scaup) - retitled, mmmm is it a Lesser Scaup? - Further retitled, Darn, it's a hybrid - As you were - Lesser Scaup

 Post-script. On Sunday, 4th December Morris Rendall got photos of the Lesser Scaup which showed the wing pattern which I had thought I had seen accurately the previous week. There followed a lot of discussion with a variety of folk commenting and supporting the original id as Lesser Scaup. I had just been a bit too cautious!

 Lesser Scaup upperwing (Photo Morris Rendall)

Note the white extends through the secondaries but not on to the primaries.

Lesser Scaup underwing (Photo Morris Rendall)

Note the dark bases to the primaries and secondaries creating a dark bar through the wing and the darker primaries contrasting with the white secondaries. The underwing of both Greater Scaup and Tuftie are whiter and brighter, pretty evenly pale throughout with pale bases to the flight feathers.

Many thanks to Morris for allowing me to post these excellent photos.

Well that was educative. Very different light today, bright and sunny and quite still all day. Problem number one was refinding the bird which took two attempts and a couple of hours (broken by needing take take younger daughter to work). Eventually AL relocated it, I'd actually seen it but passed over it earlier. It was much further away today but in bright sunlight. The first issue was that the mantle is dark, so dark that in the bright sunlight, from a higher vantage point the bird was tricky to detect amongst the Tufties, however, looking at photos on Birdguides that is not necessarily a problem. Next problem was the sheen on the head which was certainly dark green. Again there are birds on Birdguides with a green sheen, the bird at Linlithgow in December 2014 shows this. Neither of these things could be seen yesterday. Third problem, although I'd seen the bird in flight yesterday and had been pretty certain that the white in the wing did not extend through to the primaries, today when the bird flapped that was more doubtful, indeed AL was pretty certain that the white was much the same as on a Tuftie. I do find this feature very hard to see, but it has been the clincher in the past with female type birds on both Loch of Bosquoy and The Shunan (that they were Tufties or at best a hybrid), bright sunlight makes this feature harder to detect though. I woud like a photo of this feature and now wish I'd photographed instead of looked yesterday when the bird flew. However, it is also worth thinking about the vermiculations on the mantle, on this bird they do not extend on to the flanks and I think on a "good" LS they should. Also they were rather fine and not as coarse as shown in the books or on most birds online, although again the Linlithgow bird was similar. Today the bird looked to be the same size as the Tufties, however, yesterday's photos shows that it is probably smaller, it did tend to sit higher in the water which birds in photos online also appear to do.

So a conundrum. It may be the bird at Linlithgow was a hybrid, it looks rather big in photos to my eye. However if that one was good, maybe this one is as well. I think a photo of the open wing is pretty much essential, looks like I need a boat, or the luck of the bird being close again as on Saturday. Orkney birders reading this please go and look at the bird, your opinions will be welcomed. Today the bird was out in the middle of the loch, towards the hotel garden, in the area of the huge white plastic sack on the far bank. (Loch or Boardhouse, Birsay.)

Lesser Scaup Loch of Boardhouse

Original text -
I was so pleased to find this, off patch or not it's a cracking bird. I've been contemplating changing the patch boundaries a bit for next season as I rarely get out to the Brough of Birsay and I've long thought that the loch could do with a bit more attention. Today I stopped at the west end of the loch on my way out, this is just in the patch, and there was a nice selection of birds, so on the way home I went down to the water works as I'd seen there were good numbers of duck there from the west end.

I did add something to the patch year list today though as this was on the beach.

Grey Plover

For the second visit in a row there were really good numbers of these, about 30 or so.


Plenty of seals today as well, about 50 Harbour and 10 or so Grey with two Grey pups. Not sure which species this one was...

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