Today I went to Peniche to do some seawatching. I was expecting it to be weak because of the strong N-NE winds, and in fact, I've spent very little time looking at the sea. As a result I only saw a couple of Kittiwakes and Razorbills.
Before I left Peniche, I thought of having a look at the sewage treatment pond, just outside Peniche, a classic spot to shelter some waterbirds in harsh conditions like today. At a distance, with binoculars, I spotted two diving ducks with some mallards.
I set the scope and had a closer look at those two interesting visitors. I immediately noticed the head shape, peaked at the back, and the paler mantle, not contrasting too much with the flanks. The day was very windy and overcast, so getting photos was quite challenging. The best option was to digiscope images with my phone and the Swarovski atx 95mm, as the light was too poor to use the bridge camera.
Photo 1 -Lesser Scaups (Aythya affinis). 1cy Male (left) and female of unkown age (right).
The two individuals were quite different. The one on the left (Photo 1) is a 1cy male. The bird showed newly moulted grey feathers on the mantle, mixed with juvenile brownish feathers and a yellowish iris. The bird on the right, a female, was hard to age safely. The iris was dark-brown, typical of juveniles, but some older females can have a dark iris too.
Photo 2 -Lesser Scaups (Aythya affinis). The head profile is typical on both birds - peak on the back of the head.
Photo 3 -Lesser Scaups (Aythya affinis). Note how the head shape changes with posture. The male head, almost ready to dive, looks more rounded, recalling that of a Great Scaup.
Photo 4 -Lesser Scaups (Aythya affinis). Note the "mottled" pattern of the male in the mantle and flanks.
Photo 5 -Lesser Scaups (Aythya affinis). Female showing the wing pattern with the pure white coloration restricted to secondaries. Primaries exhibit greyish white infusions.
A short video with different clips, notice the head profiles changing with the angle.
Birding Portugal & Spain - Blog
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I was born in west Portugal and began birding at the age of 11. I have particular interest in bird ringing (banding), moult, seabirds and rarities. Currently I work as a guide for Birds & Nature Tours.
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