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June 18-19 miscellanea, and the infamous Santee scaup

June 18-19 miscellanea, and the infamous Santee scaup
By – 11:37 am

A June 19th check of several North County lagoons turned up a female-type Lesser Scaup at the upper end of Batiquitos Lagoon, which is very rare in summer. Another small flock of alternate–plumaged Willets–undoubtedly more “fall” arrivals.

Yesterday, the 18th, an early-morning seawatch at La Jolla produced yet another southbound, alternate-plumaged Common Murre and 3 (continuing) Northern Fulmars. An uptick to 200+ Black-vented Shearwaters.

A word about the long-staying male scaup on Lake #4 at Santee Lakes: This bird has now been present continuously for at least two years, first reported in June 2020 and still present a few days ago on the 16th. We have been treating the bird all along as an exceptional inland over-summering Greater Scaup, as it does show a number of characters of that species (large head and bill, gleaming white sides), whereas at other times we get worried that the head shape varies from good to not-so-good, the bill nail may not be quite wide enough, and the white wing-stripe is definitely more typical of a Lesser (although variation within Greater is known). But, after two years of feeling “nervous” and somewhat uncertain, we have decided to change this bird to a Greater/Lesser Scaup. We all believe that it is NOT a pure Lesser, but whether it is an odd Greater or a hybrid (good luck diagnosing that in the field!!) we are not so sure. Lots and lots of good photos of the bird are viewable in the many eBird reports over the past two years.

–Paul Lehman, San Diego