Saturday, 1 January 2011

Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)

OTHER NAMES: Scaup, Bluebill
Latin Etymology: Aythya (a seabird named by Aristotle) marila ("charcoal" or "coal dust")
Top: Adult Female Greater Scaup (subspecies A. m. marila) on The River Nene at Wellingborough, Northants - January 2011
Bottom: Mixed gender flock of twelve adult Greater Scaup (subspecies A. m. marila) in Shiranuka Harbour, Hokkaido, Japan - December 2014

Featured Subspecies: Aythya marila marila
Weight: 720-1300g  /  Length: 39-56cm  /  Wingspan: 71-84cm
UK RED LIST / IUCN Red List: Least Concern

The Greater Scaup is primarily a Winter visitor to the UK, although it does also breed in tiny numbers. Best looked for relatively near the coast, for more inland sites, look through Tufted Duck and Pochard flocks to spot odd individuals like this one. The main difficulty is that both genders do look similar to tufted ducks (eg. female scaup look similar to female tufted ducks, and males to males), so you may have to look relatively closely to pick one out of the far more numerous tufted ducks.  In Japan during the Winter, finding Scaup is a much simpler affair, as they are one of the most common migrant Winter ducks, and can be found in flocks.  In Japan, I found this a very different affair - I caught glimpses of Scaup on Rivers in Central Tokyo, and encountered a decent sized flock in the town of Shiranuka near to Kushiro.

Related Species:
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Aythya
Subspecies: A. m. marila, A. m. nearctica

- Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - A generally scarce but locally common breeding species (12000 birds) and rare breeding species (1-5 pairs)
 - A single bird seen on the River Nene in January 2011.
JAPAN - JapaneseSuzu-gamo (スズガモ) - "Bell Wildduck"
Common to locally abundant Winter migrant.
 - TOKYO/HOKKAIDO 2014 TRIP: A few in Central Tokyo and common in Hokkaido, with birds seen at Akkeshi, Kushiro and Shiranuka.

Further Notes: BirdForum Opus, IUCN Red ListRSPBWikipedia, Xeno-canto

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