Sunday 12 October 2014

Possible Tufted Duck x scaup hybrid?

Spent the afternoon around St. John's today.
First order of business was to see the Canvasback. It went missing yesterday, and I couldn't find it in the early morning so I was feeling a little gripped off. But it was re-found in the early afternoon and I was able to see it then!

It spent most of its time sleeping, as did the other divers. I guess it'll become a familiar bird over the next few weeks.

One of the nearby 19 Tufted Ducks looked a bit odd to me. I think it's an adult female, with a peaked rear crown reminiscent of a Lesser Scaup. There was also a fair bit of white around the base of the bill - but certainly within the range of TUDU.

At first glance I thought it was a LESC due to the peaked head. But it was 'too' peaked, and the back was too dark for LESC. All making me think that it was a TUDU.

Note the wide black tip to the bill. Which is another important pro-TUDU feature.
However, there is a bold white ring around the bill just before the black tip of the bill. This is unusual for a Tufted Duck.

 Compare the head shape to these Tufted Ducks photographed today:
This one is an adult female TUDU (aged by eye colour and juveniles usually don't have such a long tuft).

Another adult female TUDU. More white around the base of the bill. Female TUDUs can have more white around the base of the bill...

Adult female LESC photographed earlier in the season. This is the head shape that is what I'm seeing in the possible hybrid diver mixed with a short and bushy tuft.

I guess I'll have to get some more photos of the hybrid before we can be sure. But right now I'm thinking TUDU x LESC hybrid. Let me know what you think!

Also scored the adult Yellow-legged Gull this afternoon. This is the fifth time I've seen it this season (first time was on Sept 11). 

P10 is half grown now and it has a prominent white mirror. P9 has no mirror, and is still growing in.

Here is an adult LBBGxHERG hybrid seen today for comparison:

Also saw my first Iceland Gull of the season today, bringing me to 8 species of gull for the day.
Missed Common/Mew Gull and Black-legged Kittiwake. So 10-11 species should be easy later this month, once Glaucous Gulls start returning.

This juvenile Herring Gull stood out as the only one still in juvenile plumage today: