Sunday, 24 December 2017

Twitching... Again!

My twitching has been pretty prolific this year (especially compared to others), and surprisingly succesful. When a Tufted Duck was found by Luc Fazio last weekend, I knew I had to get over to Mississauga as soon as possible. But plans didn't work out as well as I planned, and I endured the long wait of the last week of school before Christmas Break. The bird kept giving me mini heart-attacks, and disappearing for a day, only to be refound farther East, farther away from me... But thankfully the day before I was going to go, it was found again, this time in Cliff Lumsden Park, where it stayed with it's Scaup friends until sunset.
          I planned to be there at 8:30 and meet up with my friend Isabel Apkarian. By the time I got there, she'd already sifted through the Scaup for me, and located it only a couple meters offshore. It was surprisingly hard to get onto, as it dove frequently and moved around a lot. But finally I laid eyes on it.

This male only had a few tufts grown in, but as the winter progresses it will develop into a full tuft. As I was watching the Tufted Duck, a few other duck species swam by, including smaller numbers of Lesser Scaup, American Wigeon, Long-tailed Duck and Bufflehead.

American Wigeons

Greater Scaups

Female Greater Scaup

Common Goldeneye

Long-tailed Ducks

The Tufted Duck kept moving around a lot, and I could only get some mediocre comparison shots of it with the Scaup.

Backlighting doesn't help! Greater Scaup on the top left, Tufted Duck in the middle, and a female Common Goldeneye on the bottom right

The easiest identifying feature for this bird is the jet black back, as opposed to the dark smudging or barring on the Scaup's back

The day before, a hybrid between a Tufted Duck and Scaup sp. had also been found. Determined to add it to my list, I scanned through the flock of diving ducks, while also counting them. I located it close to the end of my count (approximately 1500, almost all Greater Scaup). It didn't stand out as much as the Tufted Duck, with it's dark back, but it's oddly shaped head gave it away.

The left-most duck. The pointy head, and the smudgy back and sides gave it away. 

Luc Fazio (the original finder of the Tufted Duck) suggested it to be a Lesser Scaup, which I agree with. The tuft peaks at the front of it's head, the bird is noticeable smaller than the surrounding Greater Scaup, and although this photo might not show it, scope views showed the smallness of the bill and nail (bill end). A cool bird either way, and likely the same one seen in Tommy Thompson Park earlier this year (which I still have never been to!).

Can you find the hybrid? 😉

The day before we were making Christmas cookies, and I found a duck shaped cookie cutter. A few adjustments and a little bit of icing later, I came out with this:

My new strategy is to make a cookie of the bird I'm chasing, who knows! Hope ya'll get to see this beautiful bird, I might try and go back once it's full tuft is grown in.


Good birding,

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