New bird: Surf Scoter (Updated)

P1050590 (Custom) P1050659 (Custom)A new-to-me bird showed up in the North Basin this evening, right around the Burrowing Owl area in the northeast corner of the park.  This was clearly a duck, but its head and bill had a strange color pattern I hadn’t seen before.  I thought at first it was a Bufflehead — there’s a photo of a Bufflehead on the park plaque near where I saw the bird — but a closer look at the photos at home nixed that hypothesis.  More clicking on the Cornell bird site and the Audubon bird site finally found a match.  It’s a Surf Scoter.  Said to be common enough on both coasts in winter, but the first one I’ve seen.  The Audubon website has wonderful pix of the bird.  It eats mostly mollusks (snails) and other small marine life, as well as some vegetable matter.
Update:  Sunday at sunset this bird was still there, and this time it was busy preening.  Several times it rose out of the water and flapped its wings vigorously.  It also lifted its bright pink legs out of the water to clean them.
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