Lesser Scaup – Draycote Water
Found late on the afternoon of 24/09/10 this Lesser Scaup at Draycote Water stayed till 17/10/10. Taken on 30/09/10 this sequence of photos is not of the highest quality but illustrates all of the identification features well.
The rounded head with a slight peak on the rear crown and heavily vermiculated mantle and flanks can be seen in this shot whilst the black on the bill is clearly restricted to the nail.
The distinctive head shape is evident here as is the brownish cast to the underside of the primaries.
The contrast between the clean white of the inner wing-bar and the brownish-grey outer is well illustrated here.
Tufted Duck x Common Pochard Hybrid
When I first saw this bird, asleep at long range, I thought I’d found my second Lesser Scaup at Draycote Water but as it span slowly round the head shape changed with the angle of view and a distinct ‘tuft’ was apparent. At closer range it was also apparent that the vermiculations on the mantle were much fainter than those on a Lesser Scaup and the very fine vermiculations on the flanks were only visible at very close range, in good light and with a zoom eyepiece. When it eventually woke up the bill pattern was Tufted Duck like.
This photo shows the superficial resemblance to Lesser Scaup the bird being Tufted Duck sized with a grey mantle and appearing to show a similar head shape to Lesser Scaup though the flanks appear clean.
In this photo the bird is clearly a hybrid with a Tufted Duck like bill pattern and head shape (note also the darkness of the mantle in this shot compared to the previous one).
Left: The 2010 Lesser Scaup Right: The Tufted Duck x Common Pochard Hybrid
A word of warning
A first winter male Lesser Scaup wintered at Draycote Water in 2007 and a male moulting out of eclipse plumage was found in 2009 and 2010, the latter two turning up on dates within a few days of each other in late autumn and moving on after a couple of weeks. It seems likely that these records refer to the same individual and if so it appears to have passed through Draycote with the Tufted Ducks in late autumn, begging the question ‘where did it spend the summer’? If it summered in Northern Europe with Tufted Ducks then the prospect of a Lesser Scaup x Tufted Duck hybrid is now a possibility.