Yesterday at Otter Slough CA checking on not quite ripe plums and scattered blackberry patches, I observed a single Lesser Scaup on Cypress Lake. To my knowledge, this bird has NOT been present in the past 2-3 weeks; I have either been overlooking it or it's been in seclusion. It appeared healthy and alert. There were times that while the bird was "up" and swimming around when the head shape (feather posture) made it appear to be a Greater Scaup, but the sides/flanks had coarse barring, and there was a prominent peak to the head while it was floating with its bill tucked under wing that is common with Lesser Scaup. Also noted was the thin head when looking my direction and swimming away. I like to think about that the Greater Scaup's head "thickness" reminding me of a major league baseball player who has two cheeks full of chew. Not the case with this bird. I was also able to digiscope it while it was stretching its wings and captured the underside of the wing showing darker ends of the under wing - also an indication of Lesser Scaup.
For those new to birding (and even some of us more seasoned birders), distinguishing between Greater and Lesser Scaup species can be daunting, but there are field marks that can help make the challenge identifying these species a little easier and even fun. While I'm no expert on these species (or any for that matter), I've mentioned some of the key points above.
Here area a couple links to review and bookmark for future reference to help in your identification between these two species.
Also, other duck species observed at Otter Slough CA included:
Northern Shoveler - male
Northern Pintail - male & female pair
Blue-winged Teal - several males remain
Green-winged Teal - male
Gadwall - 2 males
Snow Goose - 8-10 individuals
Several of these birds are visibly crippled - having damaged wings and/or limping. At least 6 of the Snow Geese have flight ability and seem to be strong in that respect.
Stoddard Co.[log in to unmask][log in to unmask] http://community.webshots.com/user/photosbychris http://community.webshots.com/user/photosbychris1
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