Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lake Oconee: Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)

Sightseeing on the return trip from the ‘Long Row’ is limited to things that are different or really interesting. Lake Oconee is not on a major migratory flyway so we don’t see a lot of birds during this trip. It is not unusual to see Canada Geese but it is unusual to see other migrating birds so we tend to check them out.

We saw a flock of relatively small – relative to Canada Geese - water birds in the open area between thebig house’ and the Hwy 44 bridge (Segment 6).

We followed them at a respectful distance and got some reasonable photographs. The shape and gray-black color of their beaks indicated that they were Scoters, either female or juvenile Surf (Melanitta perspicillata) or White-winged (Melanitta fusca) Scoters. Since they would swim away when we approached we couldn’t see if they had white wing patches.

It wasn’t until we spooked them into flying that we could confirm that they did not have they were Surf Scoters. According to Sibley, it would not be unusual for Surf Scoters to be observed in this area in the winter..
Click on an image to view a larger image

Photographs: Walter W. Knapp

Related posts:

- Lake Oconee: The Long Row, 2009 (Part 1)

- The Long Row: 2007 (Part 3)

Identification and Range Resources:

- Sibley, AD. 2000. National Audobon Society The Sibley Guide to Birds. pp. 98 – 99. Alfred A Knopf, New York. ISBN 0-679-45122-6

- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. All About Birds
- Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)

- White-winged Scoter (Melanitta fusca)

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