Last year I missed the only Scaup that had been noted in our area in 2011, a female that was present for 1 day. A week and a half ago Josh Jones found a first-winter drake at a local reservoir whilst waiting for the gull roost to materialize, but I was unable to get to the site that evening. When I was able to get there the bird had disappeared! I thought that my chance had gone, but on Sunday this bird was found on a local nature reserve at Eye Green, just outside Peterborough, but inside the PBC recording area. I was there like a shot and managed my first views of a Scaup in our area for two years.
Number 114 for the year.
The Scaup (as it is more commonly known in the U.K.) is a winter visitor to our shores, with at least 7,500 individuals around our coastline, although each year a few pairs attempt to breed in northern Scotland, which have, as yet, been unsuccessful.
It tends to be a coastal species in Britain, being seen either on the sea, or on lakes near the sea. It does occur on reservoirs and freshwater lakes inland, although they are a much scarcer bird here.
A bird that is very similar to the more common Tufted Duck, indeed the Scaup does interbreed with this species and produces hybrids, which can cause identification confusion. The drake has a black head with a greenish sheen and no tuft, with a grey back and white sides and a black tail. The duck is dark brown with a variable pale patch at the base of the bill.