Sunday, 13 January 2013

Medium Scaup

Yesterday I fell on the ice (while trying to impress the kids and “surf” down a small icy slope) and badly bruised my ribs making me into a bit of an invalid (it’s an age thing). I just about managed a drive to Oslo Harbour this morning though where I hoped that I would be able to go through the duck flocks and find the Greater Scaup (bergand) that has been reported from here recently. Not surprisingly (it was -17C) most of the fjord was frozen but there was some open water where a stream enters at Kongshavn and here there were quite a few ducks. Mostly Mallard (250)(stokkand) but also 20 Goldeneye (kvinand), 9 Tufted Duck (toppand), a male Goosander (laksand), a pair of Mute Swans (knoppsvane), a single Coot (sothøne) and a good candidate for Scaup. 
I really struggled with this bird though as its jizz didn’t seem right for me. It was a 1st winter male so must have been the same bird as reported by others but it I found it to be an atypical bird. It spent most of its time sleeping and was always to be seen with the sun behind it and with it being so cold it was a struggle in the field but I managed to fire off many pictures. In the field it was noticeably no larger than the accompanying Tufted Ducks and indeed appeared smaller than some. Also I felt that the head profile was not quite round enough but this definitely depended on its posture. I also detected no green in the head (although with it being a 1st winter male this is not necessarily a problem). My thought in the field was that is was a hybrid, probably Scaup X Tufted Duck but checking my pictures I can’t really back this up. I also considered Lesser Scaup (purpurhodeand) but can’t get the head profile in most of the pictures to fit. The bill pattern which is normally a clincher with hybrids seems to be OK for a Scaup with a small black nail and the head profile doesn’t seem that odd in most pictures. As Scaup is such a rare winter bird in Oslo it could well be that this is a runt or ill bird that has not migrated with its kin which could explain it being so small.
When I saw the bird like this I was definitely thinking hybrid or Lesser Scaup as the head seems to have crown at the back
Here though itlooks OK for Scaup
and whilst asleep also looks OK for Scaup
Add the black on the bill tip is limited to small black nail as would be expected on Scaup

The small black nail can be seen again here but note the head profile again appears to peak at the back

Direct size comparison with a male Tufted Duck - the Scaup is no larger

With two female Tufted Ducks. Comparison of the bill pattern is possible with the smaller nail of the Scaup visible

another comparison with Tufted Duck. The broader black on the tip of the Tufted Duck is obvious. Notice again how small the Scaup looks

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