Saturday, 3 November 2012

Birds in Focus - Scaup

Male Scaup (RSPB)
Scaup are diving ducks with a resemblance to Tufted Ducks, although they are slightly bigger birds. The males have black heads, shoulder and breast, white flanks, a grey back and a black tail.

An easy way to remember what to look for is 'black at both ends and white in the middle'.  Scaups don't have a tuft on the head and the black on the bill is confined to the 'nail' or tip.

Female Scaup (RSPB)

The female birds are a frosty brown colour with a paler patch on the flanks and they have characteristic white 'ice cream' patches around the base of the bill.

In flight Scaup show white patches along the length of the trailing edge of the wing. Only a handful breed in the UK every year, making them our rarest breeding duck.

In winter, from from late October to March, Scaup are found on estuaries such as the Dee in Cheshire, the Solway Firth, the Firth of Forth and the Moray Firth. A small number occur inland on deeper waters, where they associate with Pochards and Tufted Ducks, the latter with which they are very difficult to distinguish.

Occasionally a Scaup is seen at Pennington Flash and they can  also been found in small numbers on the sea at Morecambe, where Tufted Ducks are not found. Scaup eat shellfish, crustacea and small insects.

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