White Bummed Scaup

General birdwatching discussion, help with bird identification, and all other things relating to wild birds and birding in NZ that don't fit in one of the other forums.
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Adam C
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White Bummed Scaup

Postby Adam C » Sat Jun 29, 2019 3:20 pm

Hi all.

Can someone educate me on this. I was under the impression Scaup never had a white bum and if so its probably a White Eyed Duck. Spotted this chap at the Christchurch-Bromley oxidation ponds this afternoon and thought I'd lucked out on a White Eye but the beak certainly isn't a white eyed duck as far as I can tell. As usual waaaaaaaaay over the back of the ponds so sorry for crappy shots.
White Bum f.jpg
White Bum f.jpg (912.26 KiB) Viewed 462 times
“Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”

Samuel Ullman
Grahame
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Re: White Bummed Scaup

Postby Grahame » Sat Jun 29, 2019 4:45 pm

I have just received the following email from PaulG

Interesting post from 'Adam C' about a white-undertail on a Scaup at Bromley Oxidation Ponds. I was scoping that bird up intensely earlier this week. You could tell him from me that the bird has been there since the summer (I also looked at it hard in Feb and March), and there's a similar individual up at Travis Wetland that is usually visible in front of the hide. Dunno how this characteristic comes-about, but it certainly grabbed my attention during my five week countrywide expedition in search of Hardheads in Feb/Mar/April !

Cheers, Grahame
Richard Schofield
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Re: White Bummed Scaup

Postby Richard Schofield » Sat Jun 29, 2019 6:05 pm

On 16th June 2018, among 158 Scaup on the ponds in Balclutha, there were five with significant white on undertail coverts. There were no other characters of White-eyed Duck. Poor photo at https://ebird.org/newzealand/view/checklist/S46578509
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Adam C
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Re: White Bummed Scaup

Postby Adam C » Sat Jun 29, 2019 11:46 pm

Interesting. Thanks for the info both.
“Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”

Samuel Ullman
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RussCannings
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Re: White Bummed Scaup

Postby RussCannings » Mon Jul 01, 2019 7:06 am

I think Richard's observation is fairly typical with this plumage in female NZ Scaups occurring regularly though in the minority. I've always assumed it had something to do with fresh basic/winter plumage but have never properly looked into it (it seems most adult females have at least some white spackling in the undertail). In general the white bum appears closely tied to very prominent white lores. Visit anywhere with big numbers of scaup (eg Rotorua) and there will be a handful of females like this bird. Clinton any ideas?

Great example of how a single feature cannot make a bird. Well-sussed Adam.

Russ

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