Thursday, 13 November 2014

Fuzzy duck, does he?

Weren’t student drinking games so much fun???? Fuzzy Duck was actually one of the better ones and also one I managed to understand the rules of. But what does that have to do with birding? Not very much really but it popped into my head today as I watching yet another fuzzy duck. After Tuesday’s aythya that I struggled with, today I had the joy of watching a bird whose identity there was no doubt about but whose appearance was completely new for me.

But starting with Tuesday’s ducky fuck sorry I meant fuzzy duck first: I asked for opinions about it on a Norwegian Facebook group and although not many have given their opion there is definitely no consensus with both pure Scaup (bergand) and Tufted Duck (toppand) suggested but nobody seems to really think too much of my hybrid theory. I have also received direct feedback from a couple of people saying it looks like a Scaup and that the amount of black on the bill is not too large for a 1cy female Scaup. I’ve found this picture which confirms that Scaup can have as much black on the bill nail as my bird so it looks like one has to be careful using this feature as a character to eliminate Scaup from your enquiries. Also looking at this video that I took of the bird it does look like a pretty standard Scaup doesn’t it?

Today’s ducky fuzz was a bird first reported yesterday by Geoff Aklam, namely a leucistic Velvet Scoter (sjøorre) at Fornebu – and what a strange ghostly bird it was. As you can see from the pictures it was still white where it should be but the areas where it should have been brown/black were the colour of milky tea although strangely the body was not the same colour with the neck and back being darker – closer to milky coffee. It is unusual to see Velvet Scoters where they were today but they were finding lots of small crabs to eat so had clearly stumbled upon a good food source.

at range it was a rather strange bird!
closer up the jizz of the bird plus the two white spots on the face reveal it to be a Velvet Scoter

with two of its kin

in flight the white speculum was still present and surprisingly obvious. Note the two paler areas running the length of the body above the wings - what causes the pigment failure to occur symmetrically and unevenly?

crappy picture but even in silhouette it's possible to see the difference between Goosander (laksand) and Red-breasted Merganser (siland)

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