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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Find the Scaup !

New game - can you find the scaup and lesser scaup in the pictures below?










Photography © Terry Fountain
Coot Loch - Benbecula - Western Isles (Outer Hebrides)
18th March, 2007


I asked John Dempsey about distinguishing between the lesser scaup and scaup (greater):

"Lesser Scaup are tricky - and some folk down here think I have got it wrong on my two pix (and they may well be right!), but basically they are smaller than Common Scaup, a lot less broad in the beam, with a smaller black nail on the bill. They ride higher in the water than most diving ducks as they're so small, and the head should show an angled rear crown, with a little peak. The bill should be concave and not as big as on a Scaup, and the white flanks shouldn't be the glaring white of a Common Scaup. The wing pattern is different too - but you have to get a good view to see that. The bird I watched was about the same size, or smaller than nearby Tufted Ducks, but the weather was pretty lousy... "

See those photographs at John's blog


" Lessers have a very small amount of black at the tip, and a more concave shape bill, most so at the base.... the highest point of head is at the rear, and much more sloped at the front.....males flank feathers have fine grey vermiculations giving a clouded greyish appearance. (rear flank striping usually courser and visable.).... upper parts darker than greater scaup and more coarsely vermiculated...they sit higher in the water.."

based on Neill Hunt's notes


"2 males (scaup) on Coot Loch and 2 lesser scaup, amongst about 300 birds on a very small out of the way Loch, needle in a hay stack!...."

Thanks Debbie and Brian



(Numbering by picture 1 - 5 then by duck left to right A - Z going by tip of bill)

Terry "Here goes for the duck pic ident’s (but they could wrong, see what others think)".

Picture 1:   1 x lesser scaup
Picture 2:   1x greater (far left) 1x lesser (far right)
Picture 3:   2 x lesser scaup
Picture 4:   2 x lesser scaup
Picture 5:  1x greater (top left) 2x lesser (top right, bottom left…………although top right has pale flank of greater but head shape more of lesser, confused?)

It would be easier if you could get good lighting and close enough to see the head colour ( see what can do at the weekend), then that would be too easy!


See Debbie Bozkurt's photograph of two drake greater scaup.
See Terry's photograph of a lesser scaup



Other local bird photographs

Sources of information for the bird sightings section

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