Image: Joseph Kennedy, 14 March 2008 [larger view].
Nikon D200, Kowa 883 telescope TSN-PZ camera eyepiece 1/350s f/8.0 at 1000.0mm iso400.
Rick Wright, Managing Director of WINGS Birding Tours Worldwide, writes:
I wish that I could see the tail of this bird. But even without that, we can tell that we’re looking at a diving duck: the head and body are clad in great monotone swaths rather than the intricate patterns of a dabbler.
The low degree of contrast between the back and side and the bright white face tell us we’re dealing with a scaup. I go through phases: sometimes the scaup are easy for me (I think!), other times I find them more challenging than I did when was a kid birder lo these many decades ago. This individual makes me feel confident (and we all know that before which goeth pride!).
This bird’s nape is high and straight, rising to a noticeable notch just behind the highest point of the crown, which itself is decidedly behind the bird’s eye. The crown and forehead then slope steeply from the peak of the crown to the base of the bill. The bill is not noticeably huge, or slipper- or shovel-shaped, and the black at the tip seems to be restricted to the nail, not reaching to the sides.
All that should make this a Lesser Scaup.
Review all mystery birds to date.