Scaup Return in Force

A portion of the Scaup in the North Basin

For reasons best known to themselves, Scaup returned to the North Basin in large numbers over the weekend. This Tuesday afternoon, five loose groups of them (known as rafts) occupied the North Basin waters all the way from the Virginia Street extension on the south end to the Burrowing Owl preserve on the north end, and beyond.  I would estimate at least two hundred, possibly as many as five hundred individuals made up the flock.  These were Greater Scaup, not the Lesser variety.  They have the perfectly rounded head of the Greater, not the bumpy head of the Lesser.   The Scaup come here every year that I’ve been paying attention, at around this time.  I’ve posted about them here before several times.  The numbers this year seem greater to me than in the recent past.  The Scaup are just visiting, and may be using these waters as an assembly point before taking off for their breeding grounds in Alaska and northern Canada.  They must have an impressive communications system for organizing their migration.  

P.S. April 30.  Not a single Scaup was to be seen in the North Basin today.  It looks like they were indeed assembling for migration, and took off.  

Greater Scaup F and M

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