Saturday, March 4, 2017

Tufted Duck!

Yesterday, John and I tried for the Tufted Duck that has been hanging out at Pintail Marsh at Ankeny NWR for a few days. We spent about an hour looking for it, never found it, then left just in time for a whole herd of birders to show up and see it right after us.

That was a bummer.

This morning, we had better luck. This immature male Tufted Duck was, from most angles, darker than the nearby female Lesser Scaup. It lacked any white in the face and had a nice broad, black nail on the bill. But the darn thing dove like the dickens. I imagine this is why John and I missed it a day ago. But the diving caused a further annoyance—it made the actual "tuft" for which the bird is named rather difficult to see since the head feathers were wet and slicked back. On a couple occasions, the bird stayed up for a few minutes, the feathers dried out, and the wind caused a little tuft to emerge at the back of this bird's head.

It was just far enough away to prevent genuinely quality photos; but, all told, they're diagnostic. Here it is next to a male Ring-necked Duck:

In front of some "Dusky" Canadas:

In flight between a Bufflehead and Lesser Scaup, showing extensive white in the wing (which I also photographed in Humboldt, Cali in January):

And again in flight above a Lesser Scaup:

Tufted Duck
Pintail Marsh, Ankeny NWR, Marion County, OR

This Tufted Duck is: my 3rd ever, my 2nd this year, and my 1st for Oregon. Somehow I have one for Idaho, California, and Oregon, but not Washington. It's my 7th state lifer of the year already, and the 249th species I've photographed in Oregon.

The other really nice bird of the weekend came yesterday, when John and I had success with the Red-naped Sapsucker that's been hanging around Corvallis much of the winter. This is my first time seeing this species in the Willamette Valley/west of the Cascades.

Red-naped Sapsucker
Corvallis, Benton County, OR

Yay March. Yay birds.