When Lesser is More

Greetings everyone. Seems like it has been months since I’ve been able to find time to pound out a post. It has really been only about a week and half but my days have become longer than usual now that Linda is officially home and in recovery mode. Although she is frustrated by the limited amount stuff she is able to do (both physically and under strict limiting from doctor’s orders), she is apparently able to do a lot more than expected based on comments from the follow up appointments. Her cardiac rehab specialist couldn’t believe she was so soon out of surgery and able to walk into her office. No surprises here, that’s my wife, driven to get back in the dog agility ring. Of course, this has forced me to learn new skills like something called “laundry” which translates to shove as many clothes as you can in the hole of the large metal box, pour the sticky stuff from the big white jug into a slide at the top and hit the brightly colored button. Then there’s grocery shopping which as far as I can tell is to simply walk up and down every aisle and grab 5 of everything that looks yummy and then get sent back with an explicit list of things to get (while picking up even more yummy stuff). Not sure about this cooking concept either – there are all these appliances and utensils scattered about the kitchen which probably all have some purpose, but not sure what, as the contents of the containers I bring from the various places on the way home all seem ready to eat just as they are. Oh wait, I have kind of fallen in love with the metal box under the counter they refer to as the dishwasher!

Enough about my domestication as I know you are really here for the birds!

Lesser Scaup found at Galveston Island State Park, Texas Gulf Coast, December 2017

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this frustrating duck!

I looked at the post count and noticed I was short of the self-imposed quota with just a few days left in the month. Looking through the post queue decided I would go with a bird … or more specifically a duck that I am pretty sure was put on this earth just to torment the hell out of me. Not sure what it is about this particular species, but it refuses to be put in the tin without a settings struggle. Too obscure (link here), too far, too blurry, too blown out, too dark (link here), too saturated (link here) you name it, I’ve successfully screwed it up with this Lesser Scaup. Today we are covering the too blown out. I should have brought these down even more than I did – didn’t want to lose what little eye detail I had. The bright side of it (sorry for the pun) is there will be plenty more chances in the field to bring you back a better specimen. Until then, you are stuck with this short series from our trip to Galveston Island back in December 2017.

Lesser Scaup found at Galveston Island State Park, Texas Gulf Coast, December 2017

The fact they took the time to name this species the “Lesser” likely lead you to quickly deduce there is a “Greater” version. That would be absolutely correct. Ironically, the Lesser moniker was not applied because of its relative regional coverage versus the Greater as it is more widespread, covering the entirety of the North American continent. The Greater prefers to hang back from the southern portions. As you would expect, the Greater is slightly longer and heavier although this distinction will likely not help you in the field unless you carry a scale around with you. Luckily, there is an easier way to distinguish the two. The Lesser has a small peak towards the back of the head. If you are lucky enough to get an angle to see that spot you are good to go. If you have my luck you are more likely to get the following view which will force you to get out your net and hold it down on your scale.

Lesser Scaup found at Galveston Island State Park, Texas Gulf Coast, December 2017

Let’s close with a few interesting facts that do not include any of my newly developed domestic skills. The Lesser name again brings irony as it is the most abundant diving duck in all of North America. According to Cornell’s site there is an established breeding population in the 3.8 million range. Best I can tell, the Greater population is in the 800,000 range and classified in steep decline on the conservation rating system. The smaller variety is quite the diver. They can spend up to 25 seconds underwater and cover a very respectable 60 feet, which makes it difficult to predict where they’ll pop – what is predictable is they will assuredly be FARTHER away than when you went to take the shot ha! Time to wrap it up, there are dishes to do (err.. put in the metal thingy).

Take it easy everyone, hope to see you again real soon.

11 thoughts on “When Lesser is More”

  1. Well there’s a Yank quacker I’ve managed to twitch (a long, long time ago). We get one or two over here every year but mostly on the west side (why fly further than necessary?) This pair was luckily on a gravel pit in the next county 80 miles away. If I remember correctly in flight they show white across all the secondaries.
    Great news L is on her toes. Nice gentle exercise is to push the vacuum cleaner about. Opps I think I might get another slap!

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    1. Sounds like a few get lost each year. You are absolutely correct, they do feature a nice white bar across the secondaries in flight vs the greater which brings that up into the tips of the primaries so that is another option to tell them apart – in fact, probably even easier as every time I see one of these divers they are taking flight (no matter how quiet I try to be). I offered up your excellent suggestion on a starter exercise and barely ducked under the cup that went sailing over my head which promptly resulted in discussion on how she is NOT supposed to user her arms ha! I don’t know B, I think you just might be trying to get me in trouble hehehe. Thanks for dropping by B and sorry for the delayed response.

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  2. Great news about Linda. I am sure she wants to be back on her toes quickly to get the kitchen and laundry back in order. Sorry- you guys just never get it right (meaning the way the gals know it has to be done). LOL
    Ducks. They are hard (I think) to identify. We were thinking of you when coming back from canoeing as there were a group of people with huge cameras pointed at (from what we could see) nothing. We got back to our cabin and the hubby checked the Dutch birding website to find in fact it was a very rare spotting of a Turkish songbird. Only the 4th time found in this country.

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    1. I find the more I screw up the home duties the less chance I have of her allowing me to do it when she gets better – they way I see it a win win. Cool a Turkish songbird – any idea what specific bird it was – did some looking on the net, but didn’t get a lot of hits where they actually showed a visual of the birds resident to Turkey. I’d book a flight to head over there to see it, but Dorian has all the flights screwed up at the moment ha! Thanks for dropping by CJ – happy travels.

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  3. Thanks for the update – what a cool bird – if they are anything like the ones we have here, they are downright vicious – I refer to them as a tool user as they will impale their victims on thorns… still cute though – appreciate the followup.


  4. Love the Scaup! Here on the mid-Atlantic Chesapeake Bay we get thousands of Lesser Scaup during the winter. The Greaters show up too, but nowhere near as many, so they are hard to spot. We gotta look a little harder for them! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My apologies again!! this comment got caught up with the other in the wrong folder, but as noted on the other comment should all be fixed going forward. Would love to get a Greater one in the tin sometime, so far missed out. Would guess it would be difficult to pick out if they are mixed in with the Lessers for sure. Appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to comment! (will definitely be better about responding from now on)

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