LESSER OR GREATER? That is the question?

There appears to be some debate over the recent Scaup sp. at Dozmary and Siblyback reservoirs. The bird appears to have a very rounded head, lacking the peaked rear crown of Lesser and shows a green, rather than purple gloss on its head. It has been observed in flight and may show a shortish wing bar. Anyone else have any thoughts on this bird? Please add your comments below.

2 thoughts on “LESSER OR GREATER? That is the question?

  1. Tim Twiggs

    Saw the bird on Tuesday lunchtime (15 April) between 1.30 and 2pm. I viewed only from the gate by the road so it was a third of a mile away and it was sunny and hazy (that’s my excuses!) but to me it did not have the coarseness of the vermiculations on its back that I have seen on the 4 other Lesser Scaups I have seen in this country. I share the views expressed above on the head shape and the photos on this site showing the green gloss is a little disconcerting. Bill looks OK to me though! To see how difficult these aythya ducks can be, look at the photos of the aythya hybrid at Cheddar Reservoir in Somerset back in March http://www.cvlbirding.co.uk/photos/aythyahybridc/index.html.

  2. Adrian Dawson

    I re-located this bird at Siblyback on Saturday and watched it for a couple of hours down to 10 or so metres, although in pouring rain. I had previously had reasonable views of the bird at Dozmary and was concerned re head shape in particular.
    My thoughts are:
    Head shape -on some occasions showed a very rounded head but on others a noticable “bump” at the rear of the crown – generally it showed more of an “angle” at the rear of the crown than on Greater. Looking at hundreds of photos of Lessers (some of which appear very rounded in some images) I don’t have a problem with the head shape
    Head gloss – although pouring with rain there was a noticable “greenish / blue” tinge. However, my previous view that this would rule out Lesser seems to be challenged by referring to literature.
    Size – pretty much indistingushable from Tufties – perhaps slightly less bulky in build.
    Mantle – very coarsely vermiculated, certainly more so than Greater.
    Flanks – some very fine greyish vermiculations only noticable at very close range.
    Bill – bit of concern here – although I initially thought the black was restricted to the nail, I couldn’t swear that the black doesn’t VERY SLIGHTLY spread on to the bill tip. This was through very close observation but in terrible conditions. At any distance it appears to be just the nail. Also the grey on the bill lightens somewhat distally and it is not a uniform colour.
    Wing bar – typically this is the only thing I couldn’t clinch as the thing failed to flap or fly while I was watching. My view is that if anyone has seen the wing bar this would be the clincher. THis would mark it as different to the Cheddar bird (I must admit I wondered whether they were the same bird).
    Anyway – if anyone has seen the thing fly please share your observations!

    One benefit of my lengthy (if frustrating!) vigil – picked up a Black Tern which came to roost on one of the buoys late on. A Siblyback first for me. Unfortunately both birds were gone early next morning – in perfect light!!!

Leave a Reply