We all know what Lesser Scaup looks like, right? One of the key ID features is head shape, which shows a small peak at the rear of the crown. Well here’s a Greater Scaup which breaks the rules.
Photographed by Bob Bullock at Ditchford Gravel Pits yesterday, this adult drake clearly shows a peaked crown. But it’s still a Greater Scaup.
The head is still too bulbous and rounded, the vermiculations on the upperparts are uniformly even (coarser towards rear on Lesser Scaup) and there are no traces of faint vermiculations on the flanks, which Lesser Scaup shows to a varying degree.
In addition to this the bird just looks too broad and bulky. Here’s what a Lesser Scaup should look like.
While the peak is visible it can appear equally subtle but it is often more pronounced. Note also head gloss – usually green in Scaup, purple in Lesser but it can vary with lighting.
Lesser Scaup has occurred in almost every British county except Northants, so the first record is up for grabs!
Many thanks to Bob and to Brian Field for the use of their excellent images.