Monday, April 06, 2009

Help Wanted: Duck Identification


With Sunday’s weather being exceptionally nice my wife decided to accompany me to the lake for an afternoon of waterfowl photography mixed with some good old fashioned bluegill fishing.

The bluegills were active in the sunlit shallows along the shoreline but it wasn’t long until my attention was drawn to a mixed flock of ducks cruising mid-lake. As we approached I noticed that the majority was female Red-breasted mergansers but two of the ducks were different.

Homing in on the two odd ducks I soon realized that the nearest duck was a female Scaup but the other duck, the black one, was a species I had never encountered.

The closest duck I can find in my bird guides is the Surf Scoter but with some differences. The Surf Scoter references show a band of white across the forehead and the tip of the beak black whereas both of these markings are missing here. Also my area is not listed as being part of the Surf Scoters range.

Perhaps this duck is an immature or it is sporting summer/winter plumage different from my reference materials. Any help to ID this duck is appreciated!

12 comments:

Steve B said...

I'm sure you've got a Surf Scoter there. Have a look at my post of Scoters in Gloucester, MA. My Waterfowl, An identification guide to the ducks, geese and swans of the world Madge and Burn, shows the immature male without the white forhead mark.

Looking back at the pictures I took in February, non of the males in the raft had an obvious white forhead as shown in the guides. Perhaps it a non-breading thing, contrary to my master reference and my 20 year old guides and my new guides.

Eric Ripma said...

I agree, definitely a Surf Scoter. The other is a Lesser Scaup.

Shellmo said...

Glad your duck was identified! Nice shots!

fishing guy said...

Salty: What a stange bill on the black duck. I saw a Ruddy duck today and the male has a blue bill.

Abe Lincoln said...

It looks like you have the ducks identified. That is always good to know. And they are nice shots.

Chris said...

I agree with Steve and Eric, it is definitively a surf scoter. A nice tick!!! Congrats and well done!

Kahshe Cottager said...

Now I really think that this is Daffy Duck! It looks just like him to me! LOL!! Nice photo!

Montanagirl said...

Nice shots, and glad you got him identified. I've never seen one of those.

imac said...

Sorry Salty, I'm duckless,lol.

Great shot tho.
Care to call in for a Finger Dip.

Leedra said...

I have never seen one of these. Glad somebody else was able to help you.

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Misty Dawn said...

Isn't it exciting when you see a new-to-you species? Well, it is to me anyway - it's an adrenalin rush for me.

Old Wom Tigley said...

Great to see others have helped here... isn't blogging great at times.