The stormy weather subsided just long enough Sunday afternoon for me to get a little photography time in. I headed to Bolsa Chica in Huntington Beach to seek out the White-winged Scoter that had been observed there for the past month. I walked the entire loop around the wetlands (about 2 mi.) and was never able to find the Scoter – although the last report was from at least two weeks ago. A treat was a juvenile Peregrine Falcon attempting to capture and kill a Willet. Although he was unsuccessful it was still fun to watch. Lots of the normal waterfowl including many Lesser Scaup but just as I was leaving I found a small group of Greater Scaup all by their lonesome. This inspired me to post the following photos as many have trouble in identifying the differences of Greater vs. Lesser Scaup.
You’ll notice the rounder head of the Greater Scaup with the peak of the head being farther forward. The color of the head is greener in the Greater and more purple in the Lesser, although this is not a difference that can be relied upon as lighting conditions can play a major factor. The sides and back of the Greater are lighter and there’s a larger black nail on the tip of the bill (not easy to see). The Lesser Scaup has a narrower, taller head and, as the name indicates, is smaller in size averaging 16.5 inches in length as opposed to 18 inches for the Greater Scaup.